You can now get Alexa to use its inside voice with Whisper ModeOctober 18, 2018
Amazon’s Alexa is getting Whisper Mode today, so everyone can start using their indoor voices. The feature, which allows the voice assistant to receive whisper commands and whisper back in reply, is now rolling out to users in the US, but it’s currently only available in English. It’ll most likely come in handy for parents who can whisper to Alexa to play a lullaby and for generally keeping noise to a minimum as to not wake a sleeping partner or baby.
We first saw previews of the Whisper Mode feature when Amazon opened up its Speech Synthesis Markup Language to developers last year. It was introduced as part of the company’s efforts to make Alexa sound more humanlike, allowing it to whisper, vary its speaking speed, and add pauses. A Verge reader gave us a demonstration of what it sounded like then:
Verge senior editor Dan Seifert tested out Whisper Mode today, and while it sounds a lot more natural than it did a year ago, it’s still pretty unsettling:
Whisper Mode is just one of the ways Amazon is working to make Alexa more contextually aware. The sound-detection technology was explained in a blog post about Alexa’s expanding AI-capabilities. According to Alexa head scientist Rohit Prasad, Alexa can “automatically learn the features of audio signals useful for detecting sound events or whispered speech.” Whisper Mode is powered by the same machine learning network that’s used for Alexa Guard, which can recognize “smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and glass breaking to turn Alexa into a home security system.” For more details on whisper detection, Alexa speech scientist Zeynab Raeesy detailed the process in a blog post here.