December 7, 2019

Alexa gains multilingual mode, celebrity voices, and frustration detection

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Alexa’s gaining more human-like speech — and learning to understand multiple languages at once. Starting today, Amazon’s launching a multilingual mode that understands Spanish and English in the U.S., French and English in Canada, and Hindi and English in India.

Additionally, Amazon’s rolling out celebrity voices generated by a neural network — starting with Samuel L. Jackson. He’ll tell you jokes, let you know if it’s raining, set timers and alarms, play music and more – There’s two versions of his voice – explicit and non-explicit — which will roll out later this year and cost $0.99 cents for a limited time.

It’s not the only improvements coming down the pipeline. The Alexa wake word engine — the engine that’s available to all of Amazon’s partners — is now 50% more accurate. Concretely, it misunderstands names less frequently.

Limited emotion detection for Alexa is another new addition to Alexa’s raft of features. Starting later this year in the music domain, when Amazon’s voice assistant detects frustration in a customer’s voice as a result of a mistake that it made, it’ll apologetically offer an alternative action (i.e., offer to play a different song).