Think Alexa’s voice is too binary? Meet Q, a gender-neutral voice assistant

amazon echo plus 2nd gen
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

While most voice assistants offer some variety in terms of voices that they can speak to you with, they have a number of shortcomings. First, they often default to a female voice that can reinforce sexist stereotypes. In addition to that, most of the voice options fail to fully capture the full spectrum of gender identity and leaves some users feeling left out. Q just might change that.

Q is a gender-neutral digital voice. Created by a team of technologists from Copenhagen Pride and Vice Media’s creative agency Virtue, Q is a genderless voice that aims to solve some of the shortcomings of current voice assistants while propelling a conversation about how technology can both perpetuate and address some of the longstanding biases that are engrained in us by societal factors.

The creation of Q started by recording a few dozen voices from people across the gender spectrum. They captured male, female, transgender, and nonbinary voices. Research has found that male voices tend to be in the range of 85 to 180 hertz, while female voices land between 140 to 255 Hertz. Somewhere in the 145 and 175 Hertz range is generally perceived as gender neutral.

While the original plan was to layer the voices together to create a voice that would land in the sweet spot, the team behind the project focused on a single person’s voice that landed nearly perfectly between what most people would perceive as masculine or feminine. A bit of tweaking and surveying of people for feedback and the team landed on the right voice for Q.

It’s worth noting that for the time being, Q isn’t available to be your voice assistant of choice. It is currently limited to an online interface. Interested parties can interact with Q by visiting However, it’s more of a conversation piece designed to get people thinking about voice assistants and technology in new ways. Q makes a point about representation in tech and should urge companies to listen to more voices when designing its products. A nonbinary voice may make more sense for a voice assistant than a gendered alternative anyway, seeing as A.I. doesn’t have a gender.


Car designers can predict your future desires. This is how they do it

Automakers employ small armies of designers, and they’re relentless about asking consumers what they want. So, how do you get from the voice of the customer to the designer’s pen, and why does it go wrong so often?

Amazon Japan may be stopping sales of the P30 in response to U.S. Huawei ban

The U.S. Commerce Department has added Huawei to its "Entity List." Google, Intel, and ARM are all confirmed or rumored to be ceasing business with the company, which may have disastrous effects on Huawei.
Smart Home

The best smart home devices that work with Amazon Alexa

Ever since Amazon added the Dot, Tap, and Show to its Echo lineup, Alexa-enabled devices have exploded. Here's a guide to everything Alexa can control in your smart home, from lights to locks to appliances.
Home Theater

Why you can’t buy Car Thing, Spotify’s first hardware device

Spotify created a voice-activated, in-car device that lets you listen to music and podcasts. But Car Thing, as it is known, is not for sale. Instead, it will be used to gather data from a limited set of customers.
Smart Home

Wyze’s next ultra-affordable smart device is an $8 light bulb

Budget smart home device manufacturer Wyze has done it again, announcing Tuesday that it is taking orders on an $8 smart light bulb. The bulb, now available for pre-order exclusively through the app in a limited access run, ships in June.
Smart Home

Mount your TV correctly with the best stud finders of 2019

Endlessly searching for a stud in your wall can be a chore. Fortunately, these stud finders are both high-tech and straightforward, meaning you can drill, nail, and hang with the utmost confidence.

Home Depot Memorial Day sale drops prices on grills, tools, and appliances

Though Memorial Day sales traditionally begin the weekend before the actual day itself, Home Depot has already released its discounts. You can save up to 40% on major appliances, grills, and power tools for a limited time.
Smart Home

Alexa, how’s the smart home revolution doing? As it turns out, just fine

More than a third of broadband-equipped households now own at least one remotely monitored internet-connected device, with smart speakers outpacing thermostats and networked cameras by a margin of more than three to one, analysts at Parks…
Smart Home

Walmart, Home Depot, ABT, Best Buy drop huge appliance sales for Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend brings kitchen appliance sales just before the summer season begins. We searched Home Depot, Best Buy, ABT, and Walmart for their best appliance deals on washers, dryers, ranges, refrigerators, and kitchen suites.
Smart Home

Best outdoor grill deals for Memorial Day from Amazon, Home Depot, and Walmart

Summer means outdoor living and, especially, outdoor cooking! With Memorial Day Weekend starting in just a few days, this is the time to give serious consideration to buying a new outdoor grill and it's not too late to find excellent deals.
Home Theater

FCC filing leaks smaller Samsung Galaxy Home before the first one even launches

Samsung's promised entry into the A.I.-powered smart speaker race, the Galaxy Home, is still nowhere to be seen. But that isn't stopping the company from planning a follow-up device, which will be smaller, and likely cheaper.
Smart Home

Selling or trading in an Echo Dot? Here's how to factory reset your device

Need to get rid of an old Echo Dot? If you no longer need your Dot, or you're swapping it out for another product, don’t throw it away. This guide includes info on the trade-in or sale value of your old Dot.
Smart Home

Neato Botvac D6 robot vacuum gets a big $330 price cut through Memorial Day

Neato is one of our favorite robot vacuum manufacturers besides iRobot, which has all but become the industry's standard for quality. We've just been alerted to a special sale on last years Botvac D6 Connected model at Best Buy, saving you…

Amazon boosts productivity by gamifying warehouse workers’ tedium

Amazon is letting its warehouse staff play video games while they work. The games have been specially designed to inject some fun into the daily grind and, of course, to encourage them to work more quickly.