Anyone who owns an Alexa device should be getting used to getting an email frequently stating a new list of skills and questions the voice assistant can do. Meanwhile, Amazon announced during their event in Seattle last month that a new feature was coming soon that would give it the ability to whisper. Now that this new mode is available, it is important to understand what this can do as well as how to enable it.
What is Whisper Mode?
One of the great things about Alexa is that it is constantly obtaining new skills that allow it to perform in ways that weren’t available previously. While some skills may be used over others, not everyone is interested in trivia games, there are those that are beneficial and allows the voice assistant to demonstrate human traits. One example of this is being able to whisper a command to Alexa and she will reply in the same way.
While this may not seem like an important skill to some, others would welcome this ability and most likely say it is about time. Picture being in bed next to your partner, who is already asleep, when you suddenly realize that you forgot to ask Alexa to set an alarm for the early morning. Naturally, your Echo device is resting across the room, which forces you to get up, walk over to your device, lower the volume, say the necessary command and then getting back into bed without waking your partner up; this is nearly impossible to achieve.
Thankfully, Amazon has finally developed a skill that not only will your voice assistant be able to hear you whisper a command but can respond back in a whisper; whisper mode is now available to use. According to writer Maggie Tillman from Pocket-Lint, this skill had already been previewed last year when Amazon opened up to developers its Speech Synthesis Markup Language.
The lead scientist for Alexa, Rohit Prasad, stated that this enables Alexa to automatically learn the features of audio signals useful for detecting sound events or whispered speech. This feature, as well as others that are on the way, was touted in Amazon’s press release last month that left the impression that Alexa will be able to out-perform other voice assistants in the not-so-distant-future.
How to Turn on Whisper Mode
While it many may wish to try out this skill, the bad news is that it was reported several days ago that this would only be available within the United States and only limited to United States English. Regardless, I am sure Amazon will be launching whisper mode in other countries as well as in other languages; however, it is unclear exactly when this would take place.
Since Whisper is an account setting, one way to enable it is to go on the Alexa app and go to the settings section. Once opened, go to Alexa Account, then Alexa Voice Responses and finally Whispered Responses. However, there is a more direct option since whisper can also be turned on by issuing a vocal command; simply say to the voice assistant Alexa, turn on whisper mode.
Those who have, and are currently, enjoying all the things that Alexa can accomplish, there is so much more that will be arriving soon. Amazon’s press release last month gave many examples of what is coming over the horizon as well as how far the voice assistant has come.
According to Tom Taylor, Senior Vice President of Amazon Alexa, he said that “the Alexa service is always getting smarter, whether you’re using the Echo you bought three years ago or an Echo Show you buy tomorrow. We have thousands of engineers and scientists inventing on behalf of customers, and today we’re excited to introduce even more features to help make customers’ lives simpler, safer, and more convenient. Soon customers will be able to manage their email, easily secure their home, watch the shows they love on Echo Show, and make their daily routines more productive—all just by asking Alexa.”
Rohit Prasad, Vice President and Head Scientist of Amazon Alexa, added: “Over the past year we’ve made incredible scientific advances in Alexa’s Artificial Intelligence (A.I.). We have applied deep neural networks to advance Alexa’s ability to detect challenging acoustic phenomena such as whispered speech and anomalous events like glass breaking; made breakthroughs in combining transfer learning and deep learning to teach Alexa new languages and capabilities faster; improved contextual understanding and added memory to help customers discover skills and ask follow-up questions more naturally; and used active learning and unsupervised learning to improve foundational wake word detection, speech recognition, and natural language understanding. We’ve only scratched the surface of A.I.-powered inventions and we’ll continue to invent ways to make Alexa more useful for our customers.”