Alexa, why so emotional? Because Amazon has created realistic new voice tones for its assistant

An Amazon Echo Dot. (Amazon Photo)

If you’ve ever felt like Amazon’s Alexa was using the wrong tone with you, well, there was really no point in letting the artificial voice assistant know that. But someone at Amazon was clearly listening, and now Alexa is getting more emotional.

Amazon announced Tuesday on its Alexa Skills Kit Blog for developers that two new capabilities will allow for a more natural and intuitive voice experience coming from that robotic voice inside Echo and Dot and other smart devices.

Alexa can now be programmed to respond with either a happy/excited or a disappointed/empathetic tone in the United States. She will also use a speaking style that is better suited to the type of content she is delivering, such as news and music, and will sound more familiar to people who are used to the news being delivered in a radio- or TV-host style.

Amazon signaled that the changes were coming back in September during its devices event in Seattle, where a demonstration showed that Alexa could determine when a user was frustrated.

Check out the six variations of disappointed and excited Alexa below:

Excited (low intensity)

Excited (medium intensity)

Excited (high intensity)

Disappointed (low intensity)

Disappointed (medium intensity)

Disappointed (high intensity)


Amazon says that Alexa’s emotions are created using Neural TTS (NTTS) technology, a text-to-speech technology that enables more natural sounding speech.

If you’re playing the “Jeopardy” skill or some other game via Alexa, she can respond in a happy/excited tone when you get an answer correct. Likewise, Alexa can respond in a disappointed/empathetic tone if you check in on the Seahawks score and she knows your favorite team is down 14 points at halftime.

Here are the speaking styles, with U.S. and Australian accents:

News (U.S.) standard style

News (U.S) speaking style

News (Aust.) standard voice

News (Aust.) speaking style

Music (U.S.) standard voice

Music (U.S.) speaking style

Developers should check out the Alexa Skills blog for more details on how to get started with these new emotions and speaking styles.

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