This ad from Amazon is hinting that Alexa will soon gain the ability to speak in different ways starting on Sunday, the same day as Super Bowl LII. In an ad released online Friday, Alexa loses her voice. A panicked CEO Jeff Bezos is then given a less-than-reassuring assurance by an Amazon employee that replacements are ready to go. The ad ends with a flash of Sunday’s date, 2.4.2018.
Given the fact that it’s a 30-second teaser for a Super Bowl commercial, it seems possible this commercial is just an indication that some funny but otherwise meaningless shenanigans will ensue Sunday as Amazon joins other deep-pocketed companies to get people’s attention during the major sporting event. A temporary change of Alexa’s voice also seems like an interesting publicity stunt to entice millions of people at home with friends and family to strike up a conversation with the AI assistant.
But since it’s Super Bowl Sunday and less than a week before the release of Apple’s HomePod, there’s also the chance that this is the precursor to actual new features, and Alexa owners could get new ways to make the AI assistant speak on Sunday.
Alexa can now speak multiple languages, and Amazon has extended SSML tags to Alexa developers to give her a more expressive voice. But unlike Siri and Google Assistant, who both added male options last year, Alexa only has one female voice option available today.
Amazon currently leads the smart speaker sales market, but competition is on the rise.
A Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) survey released late last week found that Google Assistant made up some ground on Amazon’s market lead during the holiday season. In addition to Apple’s HomePod, Facebook and Samsung are also reportedly planning to release devices this year with an AI assistant or similar features.