Alexa Gets Emotional

Amazon lets developers use 'happy/excited' and 'disappointed/empathetic' tones
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 27, 2019 7:05 PM CST

If you thought HAL 9000 got emotional, check out Alexa—who now has three levels of excitement and three of disappointment added to her somewhat robotic voice, GeekWire reports. On Tuesday, Amazon said developers can have Alexa reply to US users in "happy/excited" or "disappointed/empathetic" intonations. "For example, you can have Alexa respond in a happy/excited tone when a customer answers a trivia question correctly or wins a game," per the Alexa Skills Kit Blog. "Similarly, you can have Alexa respond in a disappointed/empathetic tone when a customer asks for the sports score and their favorite team has lost."

As the Verge points out, the disappointed voice doesn't sound "that disappointed—maybe more unhappy or a little bit sad. The excited voice is great, though, especially the high intensity version." Amazon says the new intonations were designed with Neural TTS (NTTS) technology to make them sound more real. It isn't Alexa's first new inflection, either: The voice was given a news-reading tone back in January. If you're curious enough, click to hear Alex sound disappointed (low, medium, high) or excited (low, medium, high). (More interesting: After a death, police wanted answers from Alexa.)

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