Amazon’s Alexa is going to sound more human. The company announced this week the addition of a new set of speaking skills for the virtual assistant, which will allow her to do things like whisper, take a breath to pause for emphasis, adjust the rate, pitch and volume of her speech, and more. She’ll even be able to “bleep” out words – which may not be all that human, actually, but is certainly clever.
These new tools were provided to Alexa app developers in the form of a standardized markup language called Speech Synthesis Markup Language, or SSML, which will let them code Alexa’s speech patterns into their applications. This will allow for the creation of voice apps – “Skills” on the Alexa platform – where developers can control the pronunciation, intonation, timing and emotion of their Skill’s text responses.
Alexa today already has a lot of personality – something that can help endear people to their voice assistants. Having taken a note from how Apple’s Siri surprises people with her humorous responses, Alexa responds to questions about herself, tells jokes, answers to “I love you,” and will even sing you a song if you ask.
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