Alexa is a virtual assistant created by Amazon which runs on the Amazon Echo devices.
Users interact with Alexa by voice command to initiate many actions such as; set alarms, play music, podcasts, or audiobooks, create to-do lists, and inquire about the weather, traffic, news, and other information.
Until now, Alexa’s voice has been a spoken female voice, but Amazon has just added the ability for Alexa to whisper. Alexa will also be able to take a breath to pause for emphasis and adjust her rate, pitch and volume.
These changes should result in Alexa having a more genuine and human-like voice, and could result in Alexa stimulating euphoric tingles and deep relaxation in ASMR-sensitive individuals.
Or perhaps Alexa will just step into the uncanny valley and fail as a virtual ASMR artist because the whispers of an electronic device can’t yet capture the true sentiment of a caring human.
Time will tell.
Here is beginning of the announcement posted April 27, 2017 on Amazon’s Alexa blog:
“New SSML Features Give Alexa a Wider Range of Natural Expression
Speech Synthesis Markup Language, or SSML, is a standardized markup language that allows developers to control pronunciation, intonation, timing, and emotion. SSML support on Alexa allows you to control how Alexa generates speech from your skill’s text responses.
You can add pauses, change pronunciation, spell out a word, add short audio snippets, and insert speechcons (special words and phrases) into your skill. These SSML features provide a more natural voice experience.
Today, we are excited to announce five new SSML tags in the US, UK, and Germany that you can use with Alexa, including whispers, expletive bleeps, and more.
In addition, today we also rolled out speechcons in the UK and Germany. Let me explain what they are and how to use them.
Five New SSML Tags
- Whispers – Convey a softer dialog with <amazon:effect name=”whispered”>.
- Expletive beeps – Bleep out words with <say-as interpret-as=”expletive”>.
- Sub – Use the <sub> tag when you want Alexa to say something other than what’s written.
- Emphasis – Add <emphasis> to change the rate and volume at which Alexa speaks.
- Prosody – Use this tage to control the volume, pitch, and rate of speech.”
Click HERE to read the full announcement from Amazon.
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