Amazon today announced that developers will be able to build Alexa skills that recognize unique human voices, starting in early 2018. Personalized voice profiles are set up through the account of the primary user of an Alexa-enabled device and can be extended to up to 10 users.
Called “Your Voice by Amazon,” voice profiles that recognize up to 10 users were first made available last month. This type of personalization makes it possible for Alexa to deliver the right flash briefings when someone in your household asks “What’s the latest news?” It also powers personalized shopping and allows Alexa to use the right contacts when you say “Call work” and to deliver tailored music results if you have the Amazon Music Unlimited Family Plan.
Letting third-party Alexa skills identify users based on voice could potentially lead to native payments for Alexa skills. Today, payments for skills like Starbucks or Wingstop are often entered via websites or apps for preset orders.
Personalization for Amazon voice apps could also lead to more Alexa skills made especially for games. From reports of CEO Jeff Bezos’ gaming interest to Alexa Accelerator investments, games with Alexa-enabled devices are becoming a bigger part of Amazon’s effort to grow its Alexa skills ecosystem. Last month saw the debut of When in Rome, one of the first known board games led by Amazon’s Alexa. The game was the product of Alexa Accelerator graduate Sensible Object. A series of six board games, called Voice Originals, is also due out next year.
Echo Buttons preorders for games with Alexa skills started for the first time last week and are due out December 19.
Also announced today, and coming in the first quarter of 2018, Alexa skills will gain the ability to send push notifications that light up the ring of an Echo device and make noise. Applications for a developer preview are available today for skills in the U.S., the U.K., and Germany.