Do you want to use your Amazon Echo device late at night without waking up your friends or family? Luckily, one of Amazon’s best kept secrets is “whisper mode,” which allows you to use Alexa while it speaks to you in a quieter, softer voice. Best of all, activating Alexa’s whisper mode is easier than you probably think. In our guide below, we walk you through the process of turning on whisper mode so you never have to worry about annoying the light sleepers in your house.
Here’s how to enable whisper mode
There are a couple of different ways to get Alexa to start speaking ever so softly to you. The first method is simple. Just say “Alexa, turn on whisper mode,” and Alexa will respond with a confirmation that whisper mode has been enabled.
Another way to get Alexa to have soft, nighttime conversation with you is to enable the whisper mode setting in the Alexa app. Here’s how.
1. Open the Alexa app
2. Open the main menu and select settings
3. Select Voice Responses (located under Alexa Preferences)
5. Enable whisper mode by sliding the switch to the right into the “on” position
Is it creepy?
Alexa’s whisper mode recognition is comparable to regular voice recognition. However, if you have background noise in the room, you’ll have to get close to the speaker in order for it to pick up what you’re whispering, where normally you might be able to yell a command from a distance even with the background noise. If you whisper something to Alexa and she doesn’t hear you, she’ll even whisper back and say “Sorry, I didn’t get that.” How does she sound when she whispers? It’s not creepy or robotic. Alexa’s whisper actually sounds a lot like a human’s.
So far, we’ve noticed that some Echo devices perform better in whisper mode than others. For instance, the Echo Dot performs exceptionally well in whisper mode, while the Echo Look understands whispered responses, but doesn’t whisper back consistently like the Dot.
How does whisper mode work?
For Alexa to use whisper mode, the smart speaker must be able to detect whether or not a person is whispering, understand what they are saying, and respond in the same manner. When you whisper, you’re not really using your voice. “Whispered speech is predominantly unvoiced, meaning that it doesn’t involve the vibration of the vocal cords, and it has less energy in lower frequency bands than ordinary speech,” explains Alexa Speech Group scientist Zeynab Raeesy in an Amazon Alexa Developers Blog.
Whisper mode utilizes long short-term memory neural networks (LSTMs), which are used in speech recognition. Alexa’s end-pointing process is also important to whisper mode. End-pointing is how Alexa detects when you finish speaking a command and expect a response. Silence is part of the input for the whisper detector though. By examining peak LSTM confidence data over frames of an utterance and making optimal adjustments, the Alexa speech scientists were able to solve this problem and make it so Alexa can understand and respond to both whispering and regular speech.
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