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Amazon’s Alexa gets news anchor speaking voice, The Verge reports



Amazon echo
An Amazon Echo speaker.
AP/Elaine Thompson

  • Amazon has developed a new voice for its AI-assistant
    Alexa which sounds more like a news anchor,
    The Verge reports
  • It did this by training neural text-to-speech
    technology on audio recordings of real newsreaders to pick up
    on their inflections and nuances.
  • The result is still a little robotic, but recognisably
    more like a newsreader than Alexa’s standard voice.

Amazon has been working on a new voice for Alexa to make it sound
more like a news anchor, which it says customers prefer when
listening to the AI-assistant reading out headlines.

The Verge reports
that Amazon developed this new voice by
combining neural text-to-speech technology (or NTTS) with
recording audio clips from real newscasters.

Here’s Alexa regular voice, reading an article about the
Grand Central terminal opening in San Francisco:

Listen here to Amazon’s NTTS-trained newsreader

The result is still somewhat robotic, but includes some of the
inflections often used by newsreaders.

Read more:

Microsoft’s voice-recognition tech is now better than even teams
of humans at transcribing conversations

Trevor Wood, who oversees the application of AI in text-to-speech
at Amazon, told The Verge: “It’s difficult to describe these
nuances precisely in words, and a data-driven approach can
discover and generalize these more efficiently than a human.”

Amazon said it only required a few hours of data to teach Alexa
to talk like a newscaster. It will be launching the new voice on
enabled devices in a few weeks’ time.

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