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Alexa will now sound sad when your football team loses

Alexa will soon be able to convey happy or sad emotions, thanks to a new development within Amazon’s Natural Text To Speech (NTTS) technology.

In a post on the Alexa Skills Kit blog for developers, Amazon says the voice assistant will soon be able to respond in excited or disappointed tones of varying intensity.

So, if you ask how your favourite sports team has fared and she has to break the news that relegation-threatened Manchester United have lost yet again, she will now report the information in a disappointed tone with high intensity.

Here’s an example of that tone, which Amazon has posted to YouTube:

Contrarily, if you get a question right in a trivia game, then you might get an excited/happy response from Alexa, such as the below example:

In the blog post, the company wrote: “Starting today, you can enable Alexa to respond with either a happy/excited or a disappointed/empathetic tone in the US. Emotional responses are particularly relevant to skills in the gaming and sports categories.”

Related: Amazon Alexa Guide

As well as Alexa Emotions, Amazon is also debuting a new Speaking Styles tool for developers, designed to differentiate between different intonations when it comes to news and music.

So you can have an Australian news reading style that’s loaded with that country’s distinctive interrogative. Or it’ll be possible for developers of music-based skills to access a new, more natural, speaking style when announcing playlists and such.

The company explained: “The news and music speaking styles tailor Alexa’s voice to the respective content being delivered by changing aspects of speech such as intonation, which words are emphasised, and the timing of pauses. While conducting ‘blind listening’ tests, the news style was perceived to be 31% more natural than Alexa’s standard voice and the music style was perceived to be 84% more natural.”

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