In the latest feature update, Amazon announced that Alexa may soon be able to use real, human voices when speaking to users – including the voices of their dead relatives.
The company demonstrated the new feature at the annual Re:Mars conference. Amazon played a video where a young boy asked “Alexa, can Grandma finish reading me the Wizard of Oz?”
Alexa acknowledged the request and switched to another voice mimicking the child’s grandmother. The voice assistant then continued to read the book in that same voice.
Amazon began working on this feature as a way to put more “human attributes of empathy and affect,” into the Alexa system to build more trust in its users, according to Rohit Prasad, senior vice president and head scientist for Alexa.
“These attributes have become even more important during the ongoing pandemic when so many of us have lost ones that we love,” Prasad said. “While AI can’t eliminate that pain of loss, it can definitely make their memories last.”
Alexa’s new system will allow the virtual assistant to mimic the voice of any user based on less than a minute of recording.
Users can also switch the voice of their assistant to celebrity voices like Samuel L. Jackson and Melissa McCarthy.
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