Have you noticed your vocal interactions with Alexa are not conducted at the volume of normal speech? Us too. We tend to raise our voice to query the assistant, and Alexa is partial to shouting back at us too.
However, a greater level of decorum is possible from today, thanks to the roll out of the whisper mode, which Amazon announced at its hardware event last month.
The whisper mode is ideal for those late night or early morning queries you need to make without disturbing those who may be in the land of nod. If you whisper your command at an Echo device, Alexa will respond to you in kind.
“Gone are the days of waking up your spouse or partner to ask Alexa for the weather in the morning or turn your alarm off. Whisper Mode is a new feature that allows you to whisper to Alexa, and she will whisper her response back to you,” Amazon says.
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The feature is only available in the US at present and Echo users will need to enable it before they can begin whispering sweet nothings to the personal assistant.
In the Alexa app, head to Settings > Alexa Account > Alexa Voice Responses > Whisper Responses. Once this is enabled, users can activate the feature by saying “Alexa turn on whisper mode.”
Shortly after Amazon announced the feature it published a blog post explaining how the feature works; and it’s much more complicated than it would seem.
Amazon scientist Zeynab Raeesy explained whispered speech is typically low energy and unvoiced, meaning it lacks the vibration in the vocal chords. That makes it much more difficult for a listening device like an Amazon Echo to pick up the sounds effectively.
Raeesy says Amazon compared the performance of two different neural networks in order to to distinguish between words spoken normally and those whispered. They found a long short-term memory (LSTM) network performed better than multilayer perceptron (MLP) network.
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