May 22, 2018

Alexa gains eight new voices - but they're for developers for now

17 May 2018, 02:45 | Casey Mitchell

Alexa developers get 8 free voices to use in skills courtesy of Amazon Polly Sarah Perez @ 10 hours

Alexa developers get 8 free voices to use in skills courtesy of Amazon Polly		
	Sarah Perez

   	10 hours

The online retail giant said Wednesday that developers can now apply to test the voices, which were built to sound like U.S. English speakers.

Amazon Polly can also be used even if you already use multiple voices in your skill through.mp3 files or other techniques, the post noted, as Polly offers more natural-sounding voices and is easy to maintain.

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More demos are available on a dedicated website, while more details about the research are available in a paper entitled "Understanding and Mitigating the Security Risks of Voice-Controlled Third-Party Skills on Amazon Alexa and Google Home". This means Skill creators can give various characters in a given Skill different voices, according to Amazon.

The move comes thanks to Amazon Polly text-to-search service, which the company is opening to developers as a part of the preview program.

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More recently, Amazon launched the "Remember This" feature for Alexa, essentially giving the virtual assistant a memory. Using Amazon Polly, you can choose a different voice for any utterance by using the Structured Speech Markup Language (SSML) and specifying an Amazon Polly voice using the "voice name" tag. You can cache and replay Amazon Polly's speech output to prompt callers through interactive voice response (IVR) systems, such as Amazon Connect.

Currently, developers are stuck with Alexa's standard voice for any skill they want to make, but that's all about to change.

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