Alexa will soon be able to speak to users in other voices, including loved ones who have passed on.
On Wednesday, Amazon unveiled the new update during their annual “re: Mars” conference. The popular virtual assistant tool will now use a short recording of someone’s voice and then mimic it, speaking exactly as they would.
During a demonstration played at the conference, a boy asks the device to have his grandmother read him the “Wizard of Oz.” Alexa replied, “Ok,” and proceeded to recite the book in a different voice.
Amazon sought to show how Alexa “enables lasting personal relationships,” which can prove exceptionally helpful as many people continue being apart. The tool will also allow a level of comfort to those whose loved ones have passed away.
It was only a matter of time before Alexa would be able to include customized voices. In 2019, Amazon debuted a feature that allowed Alexa to speak in the voices of famous people, most notably Samuel L. Jackson.
While the company is proud of its latest innovation, other tech giants are limiting similar features for fear that they may have a detrimental effect. Recently, Microsoft announced it was limiting its voice imitation capabilities, concerned that perpetrators could use the tool to deceive others.
Subbarao Kambhampati, a professor of computer science at Arizona State University, says that voice imitation software is an excellent reminder to the public that even our own ears can deceive us at times.
Amazon did not reveal when the feature would be launched but did confirm that it is currently in development.