Heartfelt Assistance?

Emotion detection has been a goal of companies creating voice and conversational AI experiences for a while now with Amazon going as far as filing for a patent. While visions for sonic emotional intelligence have yet to be fully realized, we are seeing companies take steps toward making the assistants themselves more emotional. Last week Amazon launched new tools to make Alexa sound more excited or disappointed depending on what a developer wants to convey. Additionally, Amazon says that for first-party experiences, the new feature will be informed by user context, meaning that Alexa will try to intelligently determine when to respond more positively or negatively, depending on the type of query and response it’s delivering.

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Alexa Gets Emotional 

Amazon has introduced new features for Alexa allowing the assistant to speak with more emotion. According to CNBC, the new capabilities “will allow developers who build Alexa into skills to express excitement or disappointment with varying levels of intensity.” In addition to skills, Amazon says the new ’emotion’-enhanced voice may be heard in use with replies to everyday user questions. One example provided by an Amazon spokesperson was that of a sports score question where the assistant could sound more positive or negative depending on the device owner’s team preferences. More on CNBC.

Pharmaceutical Assistance 

In partnership with Omnicell and Giant Eagle pharmacy, Amazon has announced a new capability for users to better manage their medical needs through Alexa. Specifically, Alexa can now facilitate “medication reminders and voice refill request” for Giant Eagle pharmacy customers. In order to utilize these features, customers will need to enable the Giant Eagle Alexa skill and link their account along with setting up required security protocols. Amazon sees this activation as an initial launch and plans to expand the capabilities to more pharmacies next year. More on Amazon.

Xiaomi’s Conversational Intelligence 🔊💰

Chinese tech company Xiaomi has launched new features to it’s voice assistant platform, Xiao AI. The new capabilities include “continuous conversation,” intelligent phone call screening and a new male voice option. The new continuous conversation feature is similar to previous updates made by Amazon and Google allowing their assistants to have multi-turn conversations without a user having to routinely say the wake word to initiate related requests. The call screening feature will allow the AI to “turn the message into text and generate a potential reply. Once the user taps the reply they want to send back, the AI will speak it back to the caller, all without the user ever having to pick up the phone.” Currently, these new features are only available on select Xiaomi smartphone models.  More on Voicebot.

Stats Don’t Lie

58% – Smart speaker users who own two or more devices (data via Dashbot)

76% – Businesses reporting measurable benefits from integrating voice and chat assistants. (data via Voicebot)

Chart of the Week

Voice Enabled Device Use Cases
Voice Enabled Device Use Cases (Dashbot)