Amazon's Alexa voice assistant now has some celebrity competition. Starting last week, the company began letting users purchase the voice of actor Samuel L. Jackson as a fill-in for the company's popular voice assistant, Alexa. This means users who buy the voice for $0.99 are able to receive audio responses from their Echo device in the actor's iconic voice. Actor Samuel L. Jackson (pictured above) is the first-ever celebrity voice option to make its way onto the Echo speaker To use the new feature, users who purchase the Alexa alternate must prompt their Echo device to respond in Jackson's voice by specifically phrasing their queries. For instance, anyone who purchases the feature can activate Jackson's voice by uttering something like'Hey Alexa, ask Sam Jackson if...' The new feature stops short of fully replacing Alexa and currently only allows users to query Jackson for the weather, jokes, and for details about their calendar or the time or the news.
Oscar-nominated actor Samuel L. Jackson is lending his iconic voice to Amazon's Alexa – profanities and all. During Amazon's event to unveil new products and services Wednesday, the online shopping giant announced that Jackson will be the first celebrity voice for its Alexa virtual assistant and was created using neural text-to-speech technology. There will be both an explicit version and a clean version when the feature launches later this year. The Alexa "skill" will cost 99 cents as an introductory offer. After the introductory period, the price will be $4.99, according to the product page.
In addition to new hardware, Amazon also revealed new Alexa features, including "doorbell concierge," which adds the voice assistant to Ring smart doorbells. The update makes Alexa more conversational when interacting with people at a user's front door, including asking if it can "take a message" or telling a deliveryman where to leave a package. Another new Alexa feature uses AI to mimic celebrity voices. For 99 cents, users can select the voice of a celebrity such as actor Samuel L. Jackson to tell them the weather, set alarms and play music. The feature is set to roll out later this year.
The spirit of Samuel L. Jackson is ready to possess your Alexa devices. If you want to make your smart speakers 1,000 times more fun and would rather hear the weather report and wake up to the actor's dulcet tones, you can get things started by saying "Alexa, introduce me to Samuel L. Jackson." This rollout is part of Amazon's Celebrity Voice Program for its voice assistant first announced back in September. Installing his voice will cost you $1, but that's a tiny price to pay to be owned by SLJ in a game of rock, paper, scissors. There's a bunch of other things you can ask SLJ, as well, such as what it was like making Star Wars and where his favorite vacation spot it.
Amazon wants its Alexa voice assistant to leave the home and be with you everywhere you go, and is turning to wearable technology to achieve this. Unveiled at an event in Seattle on Wednesday, Amazon's new Echo Frames smart glasses, Echo Loop ring and Echo Buds aim to put Alexa on your face, your hand or in your ears. The $179.99 (£146) Echo Frames are equipped with directional speakers similar to the Bose Frames smart glasses, and have microphones for Alexa, which connects to a phone to read out emails, text messages and other information. The smart glasses do not have a display or camera – seeking to avoid the stigma associated with Google's Glass – but can be equipped with prescription lenses. The $129.99 Echo Loop is a smart ring that vibrates to alert users of notifications, while built-in microphones and a speaker can be used to interact with Alexa – an experience attendees in Seattle described as being akin to "whispering a secret to Alexa".