Alexa will soon be able to hear you whisper — and answer in kind

Amazon will introduce a new “whisper” mode to Alexa starting in October. This mode will enable all Alexa-enabled devices to listen for and respond to whispered speech and whisper a reply back. The mode came about as part of Amazon’s push for Alexa to incorporate more natural, intuitive language and cue in on conversational clues. The company has made consistent improvements to the Alexa system and voice recognition processes, and the Whisper mode is one of a bevy of new features.

Gone are the days when you wake your partner up first thing in the morning when asking Alexa for the weather. You can still get that information, of course; you just whisper, and Alexa will automatically whisper the response back to you.

The programming and logic involved in this process is complex. When you whisper, the words come out unvoiced, which means there is little to no vibration of the vocal cords. Emulating this response from an Alexa without simply lowering the volume takes a certain amount of creative thinking, but the entire process will be explained in December at the IEEE Workshop on Spoken Language Technology.

Whisper Mode is one of many features that have been added to Alexa over the past year, including Guard and Hunches. Guard lets you say, “Alexa, I’m leaving,” and the device will automatically arm and activate your security system. The system will also listen for the sound of glass breaking, smoke detectors, or carbon monoxide detectors and alert you via push notification if it hears any of these. This will be available on Echo devices later in the year.

Hunches allows Alexa to learn your daily routines and act on them. For example, if you tell Alexa goodnight, she may respond with, “Good night. You left your living room light on. Should I turn it off?” This feature gives Alexa more control over your connected devices, but adds a level of convenience in case you forget to turn anything off. This feature will also be available later in the year.

Alexa is also adding Tital, a music streaming service. This service will be available on all Echo devices and uses the Music Skill API introduced on September 20.


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