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Amazon Alexa gets Samuel L Jackson and other celebrity voices

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Amazon Alexa gets Samuel L Jackson and other celebrity voices

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Amazon

Amazon has announced that its virtual assistant Alexa will soon be able to mimic the voice of actor Samuel L. Jackson among other celebrities.

The company plans to charge a fee for the feature, with each voice costing $ 0.99 (80p).

The company has also upgraded its range of Echo speakers by adding a larger high-end version with Dolby Atmos for "3D sound".

Amazon is the world's best selling smart speaker brand.

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Dave Limp, Amazon's head of devices, hosted his hardware event in Seattle

However, this position is being challenged by Chinese companies, including Baidu, while Google is also expected to present its own equipment next month.

The company also extended its Echo line to a selection of wearable technology for humans and pets for the first time.

New devices include:

  • Echo Frames – A pair of titanium-framed glasses that vibrate to provide notifications and have built-in microphones and speakers to use Alexa, but no display
  • Echo Buds – a pair of Bluetooth wireless headsets with noise reduction technology, giving them an advantage over Apple Airpods that can activate the company's virtual assistant only by voice, unlike other enabled headsets. for Alexa
  • Echo Loop – A ring that has two microphones and a "play" button that allows owners to record messages and send them to a smart Echo speaker.
  • Fetch – A pet tracker designed to attach to a dog collar

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Amazon

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Echo Frames don't project an image before users' eyes, unlike Alexa's rivaling North smart glasses

In addition, the company said its smart assistant would be incorporated into General Motors vehicles from next year and that some existing models could be upgraded to include the feature.

"This avalanche of new products underscores Amazon's desire to extend Alexa's reach to all parts of people's lives – whether at home or on the move through new Echo Buds or in the car through a deal with General Motors," he said. Geoff Blaber, CCS Insight analyst.

"Not only will it strengthen Amazon's reach with existing customers using Alexa products, it will also provide the opportunity to attract more consumers to embrace its increasingly ubiquitous voice assistant."

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Amazon's pet tracker will use new wireless data transfer technology to allow owners to monitor their dogs up to 500 meters away

Sound boost

Amazon said it would use a "text-to-neural voice" mechanism to mimic celebrity voices on Alexa-powered devices. It will use recordings that the stars provide as the basis for other computer generated statements.

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Getty Images

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Samuel L Jackson's voice will be offered in "clean" and "explicit" modes for Alexa

In the case of Avengers actor Samuel L Jackson, consumers will have the option of choosing a version that swears or not.

The company said other famous stars – who will be paid for their services – will follow.

Amazon recently announced that it was upgrading its music streaming service to a "high definition" format to help its fortune.

Your new Studio speaker should provide users with the means to appreciate the extra details it offers. Like the Sonos kit, it adjusts its sound to suit the acoustics of the room in which it is placed.

And two of the $ 200 (£ 190 UK) speakers can be paired and connected to a Fire TV stick or TV to create a home theater experience.

"Amazon never had a smart speaker that was marketed specifically for its audio quality, like an Apple HomePod or Google Home Max," commented Ben Stanton of Canalys technology consultancy.

"Normally, third parties like Harman and Sonos would be the only ones to differentiate themselves in this space on behalf of Amazon.

"If it delivers on its promise, it will cannibalize these third-party products and leave little room for third-party smart speaker providers to innovate."

Amazon shares closed the day 1.5% higher, while Sonos shares fell 5% higher.

Privacy Concerns

Amazon device chief Dave Limp addressed user privacy concerns early in the event at the company's Seattle headquarters, even showing a received tweet complaining that one of his speakers was being activated without the word " Alexa "were pronounced.

"We worry about that," he said.

"Privacy is absolutely fundamental to everything we do inside and outside Alexa."

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Amazon

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Limp showed a tweet in which a British father of three had expressed concern about Alexa

He highlighted the fact that users can now command a device to delete everything they said that day. In addition, the company recently added an option to its Alexa application to allow users to choose not to have their voices transcribed by humans to improve service accuracy.

However, some of its rivals – including Apple and Google – went further by requiring their users to opt for similar programs.

"Privacy is a big issue for all technology makers and recent revelations show that Amazon is vulnerable," said Adam Simon of Context market intelligence firm Context.

"All our research shows that this is a major concern for consumers.

"However, ironically, it is not the most important barrier to preventing people from buying smart home products. Privacy is overcome by misunderstanding, lack of value perception and lack of good use cases."

He added that later this year users will be able to ask Alexa "why did you do this?" To question unexpected behavior.

In addition, a new setting will allow recordings to be automatically deleted after a period of time ranging from three to 18 months.

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Amazon said it decided to launch a smart oven after its previous Alexa microwave became a bestseller

Other ads included:

  • a new 8 inch (20.3 cm) Echo Show smart monitor, which can now display group video conversations with several other people at once. It has the same "high definition" screen resolution as the 10 inch model, but only a one megapixel camera versus the 5MP sensor on the larger device.
  • a small version of its smart speaker that plugs directly into the wall and has a door into which owners can attach accessories such as a motion sensor or a night light called the Echo Flex
  • an Internet-connected lamp that can change colors according to music called Echo Glow
  • an intelligent voice-controlled oven that can also cook food by microwave or an oil-based "fryer". It can be paired with a smartphone to allow users to read packaged food barcodes to set the device to cook at the appropriate temperatures for the recommended amount of times.
  • a new wireless protocol called Sidewalk, which can connect devices up to 500 m (0.3 miles) away – offering an advantage over Bluetooth and wifi – but uses less power than a 4G or 5G data link.

Limp also announced changes to Ring-brand smart bells.

They will now use Alexa, including a service that will allow visitors to record a message if the owner is absent and unable to respond remotely through the device application.

He also unveiled new Ring hardware, including an in-house security camera – which will compete with Google's Nest Cam, as well as similar products from Hive and Canary – and a "modernization" kit that adds clever features to home systems. existing alarm.

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