Amazon is Teaching Alexa To Speak Like a Newscaster
Wednesday November 21, 2018. 09:10 PM , from Slashdot
The way newscasters speak is unmistakeable, with their exaggerated modulations and drawn-out pauses. And now, Amazon has taught Alexa, its voice assistant, to approximate the authoritative intonation. From a report: You can listen to samples of the speaking style here, and the results, well, they speak for themselves. The voice can't be mistaken for a human, but it does incorporates stresses into sentences in the same way you'd expect from a TV or radio newscaster. According to Amazon's own surveys, users prefer it to Alexa's regular speaking style when listening to articles (though getting news from smart speakers still has lots of other problems).
Amazon says the new speaking style is enabled by by the company's development of 'neural text-to-speech' technology or NTTS. This is the next generation of speech synthesis, that use machine learning to generate expressive voices more quickly. Currently, Alexa uses concatenative speech synthesis, a method that's been around for decades. This involves breaking up speech samples into distinct sounds (known as phonemes) and then stitching them back together to form new words and sentences.
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