Other Gadgets

Amazon Alexa will now interact in Hindi

Mala Bhargava NEW DELHI | Updated on September 18, 2019 Published on September 18, 2019

An upcoming feature will bring the ability to speak to Alexa in Hindi and English without changing the language settings every time   -  Bloomberg

In a move to make Alexa more ‘Indian’, Amazon today announced that the voice assistant housed in smart speakers and other devices, will now support interactions in Hindi or Hinglish (a blend of English and Hindi). This will make it much easier for Amazon to onboard new users.

Since the launch of Alexa in India in 2017, there have been numerous attempts to localise the voice assistant such as equipping it with the skills to pronounce even the most difficult names and places in many regional languages.

With the new update, Alexa can now understand customers speaking in Hindi or Hinglish, in multiple contexts, and varied regional accents and dialects. Users can ask Alexa for diverse Hindi content such as jokes, shayaris, games, Kabir ke dohe, Panchatantra stories, Bollywood dialogues, and spellings of words in Hindi.

Linguistic diversity

“India has uniquely challenged our AI teams with its cultural and linguistic diversity. We are thrilled to bring a suite of AI advances in multilingual understanding so that customers can interact with Alexa in different regional variants of colloquial Hindi. We are also grateful to Indian customers who contributed to Hindi development through the Cleo skill,” said Rohit Prasad, Vice President, and Head Scientist, Alexa AI, Amazon.

Alexa gets many of its capabilities from ‘Skills’ or little programmes written for the assistant by developers. There are over 500 of these that can be enabled from the Alexa app and are specific to India, spanning everything from cricket to horoscopes to Bollywood information to India news. Alexa can also play Indian music from a number of sources.

To get started with Hindi, customers can just ask, “Alexa, help me set up Hindi.” Existing Echo customers in India can change their device language to Hindi via the ‘Language’ option inside the ‘Device’ settings on the Alexa App. Echo Show users can access the Settings section to change the language by swiping down from the top of the screen.

Puneesh Kumar, Country Manager for Alexa Experiences and Devices, Amazon India, said: “With today’s launch, you will notice that Alexa has become more local. Alexa will not only understand and respond in Hindi or Hinglish but, is also armed with a lot of knowledge about topics ranging from local information to music, and from Bollywood to cricket,” he added.

An upcoming feature will bring the ability to speak to Alexa in Hindi and English without changing the language settings every time. For example, if a customer asks for the weather in Hindi, Alexa will reply in Hindi.

Alexa in Hindi is also available on a range of smart speakers by Bose.

These include Home Speaker 500, Portable Home Speaker, Home Speaker 450, and Home Speaker 300. Coming soon, brands such as Motorola, MyBox, Boat, Portronics, Fingers, Sony, iBall and Dish will launch and update their existing Alexa-built in devices to support Hindi.

Published on September 18, 2019
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