Soon, Alexa will be able to invoke some fond memories by speaking to you in a loved one’s voice. At Amazon’s annual “re: Mars” conference on Wednesday, new enhancements to the AI device — which effectively functions as a virtual assistant — were unveiled. According to the manufacturer, Alexa’s new feature would “allow lasting personal interactions.”
For instance, Alexa can read a story aloud in the grandmother’s voice if someone requests it. Rohit Prasad, senior vice president and chief scientist of Alexa AI at Amazon, claimed that Alexa can mimic a person’s speech using a brief recording of their voice.
In a video that was shown during the event, a small boy requests Alexa to have his grandma finish reading him the “Wizard of Oz.”
After many individuals lost loved ones to the pandemic, Prasad said, the ability for Alexa to be a companion and have human-like empathy is very helpful. “AI can make such relationships last, even while it can not take away the agony of loss.”
According to Prasad, Amazon “had to learn to produce a high-quality voice with less than a minute of recording versus hours of recording in the studio” to develop this function. The solution was achieved by defining the issue as a voice conversion task rather than a speech generation process, according to the authors.
Using the recordings the celebrities provide as the starting point for new computer-generated sentences, Amazon revealed in 2019 that Alexa might adopt the voices of popular personalities with their permission, such as Samuel L. Jackson’s instantly recognizable voice.
Another new feature that was unveiled at the event was “Conversation mode,” which eliminates the need to say “Hey, Alexa,” You only need to say it once to continue speaking to Alexa and making requests.
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