Alexa is given a handful of emotions and speaking styles

Amazon has announced new emotions and speech intensity settings available for the US market. Amazon says the new speaking styles have been shown to significantly increase customer satisfaction in preliminary trials.
Amazon Echo Dot
The new speech settings should help bring Alexa to life. Photo: Guillermo Fernandes via Flickr

On Tuesday, Amazon released a significant new Alexa update which should excite Alexa users and Alexa app developers alike.

The new Alexa capabilities will give Alexa the ability to speak using two new emotions – excitement and disappointment. Each emotion is available with three intensity settings – low, medium and high.

There are also two new speaking styles which will allow Alexa to talk with different tonal variations depending on topical context.

This gives developers a lot more options to play with when it comes to creating and building responsive Alexa apps, also known as skills. With more emotional responsiveness, Alexa will start to sound much more like a human assistant, as opposed to a computer.

How can developers use the new Alexa emotions?

The new emotion settings probably won’t be relevant for many Alexa skills. But there are a number of instances where the addition of a bit of emotion make a skill a lot more responsive and exciting to use.

Amazon has given a few prime examples of skill types which would benefit from the addition off Alexa emotions.

Skills in the sports category would be a good fit for Alexa emotions, as developers could program excitement or disappointment depending on the score of a game.

Provided Alexa knows its user’s favorite team, it can use disappointment or excitement when announcing the score of a match or other events.

Amazon Echo series
The entire selection of new features is only available in the US at the moment. Photo: BestAI Assistant via Flickr

An excited response to the user’s team winning would add an extra level of depth to the interaction, and definitely help set Alexa apart from its other voice assistant competitors.

Disappointment and excitement could also be used in response to correct or incorrect trivia questions. These emotions could even be used when reading out the weather forecast, for example.

Additional features

Alongside the two emotions and the three different intensity settings, Amazon has also released speaking styles for the US and Australia.

Speaking styles change the intonation, pauses and emphasis in Alexa’s speech to better suit different contextual factors.

In the US, developers will be able to implement the news and music speaking styles. Meanwhile, only the news style will be available in Australia.

Amazon says that the new Alexa emotions and Alexa speaking styles received positive responses during trials.

An Amazon package
The new settings won’t be as relevant when it comes to ordering amazon deliverues. Photo: Stock Catalog via Flickr

Feedback showed that customer satisfaction increased by 30% when Alexa emotions were used.

When it came to speaking styles, 31% of users involved in a ‘blind listening’ test said that they felt the news style was more natural than Alexa’s standard voice. An even more impressive 84% of users said that they felt the music style was more natural than the standard voice in relevant situations.

Alexa emotions are already available for developers to incorporate into apps in the US and Australia. If you’re an Alexa skill developer, now is your chance to get ahead of the game!

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