Alexa speaks as she does, a halting voice that never quite sounds like a real person. Starting today, though, Amazon's voice assistant can change the speed of her speaking voice, slowing down or speeding up all by someone asking her directly. The new feature is designed to make Alexa more accessible to those who may need to hear the speaking voice more slowly — or even speed up the way it speaks.
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Companies are working to make their technology more accessible to users, no matter their needs. Comcast recently added an eye tracking feature, allowing subscribers to change channels, search for shows and pick a movie through a web-based interface and an eye-tracking remote.
Amazon Alexa users — on any Alexa-enabled device — can get the voice assistant to change its speed with simple commands. Want to get the A.I. to speak more slowly? Say, "Alexa, speak slower," and it will respond, "Okay, I will speak at this speed from now on," in a much slower cadence. You can continue to ask Alexa to slow down its speech, and it will comply, until hitting the lowest setting when it will reply, "Sorry, I'm already at my lowest speaking rate."
To get the voice assistant to speed up, say, "Alexa, speak faster," and the voice assistant will say the same phrase again — and again — until it gets to the fastest it can speak, and will then respond, "Sorry, I'm already at my highest speaking rate."
When to get Alexa to return to its standard speaking speed, say, "Alexa, speak at your default rate." The voice assistant will then respond, "Okay, I will speak at my normal speed from now on."
There are actually seven different speeds Alexa will be able to use — four are faster than default, and two are slower. They can be applied to anything that Alexa normally responds to such as reading the weather, news or schedules from a calendar.
The new feature is set to go live today, and GearBrain has already tested the service — which worked immediately without any download or update required on any Amazon Echo device.