Amazon deploys first Indian celebrity voice on Alexa with Amitabh Bachchan – TechCrunch

Amazon rolled out India’s first celebrity voice feature on Alexa with the country’s top movie star Amitabh Bachchan as the company strives to attract more users to the country’s second most populous country. world.

The company, which rolled out Samuel Jackson’s voice to Alexa in the United States in 2019, said users in India can add the voice of the Bollywood legend to their Echo devices or to the Amazon shopping app for an introductory price of 149 Indian rupees ($ 2) for the First year. (Starting in the second year, the annual price will increase to $ 4.)

The 78-year-old actor provides Amazon with stories from his life, a selection of his father’s poems, tongue twisters and motivational quotes. Amazon customers can also ask Alexa to play music, set alarms, get weather updates, and get responses in Bachchan’s signature style.

And the company said it is also applying neural speech technology to make Alexa sound like Bachchan even though there is no direct pre-recording. (Amit ji, remind me to ask you about Amazon’s antitrust situation in India later today.)

Image credits: Amazon

“Working with Amazon to bring my voice to Alexa has been a new experience bringing together the magic of voice technology and artistic creativity. I am delighted that my supporters can now interact with me through this new medium, and I look forward to hearing what they think about it, ”Bachchan said in a statement.

A household name, Bachchan became Bollywood’s top star in the 1970s, playing characters who fought against corruption and social injustice. He has also done dozens of advertisements for brands and initiatives ranging from everything including hair oil, cookies, cold drinks, jewelry, state tourism, banks to the vaccination campaign against polio supported by UNICEF.

The company announced its collaboration with the Bollywood legend last year. But the pandemic has forced Amazon’s engineering teams to work remotely for this project. There were also additional complications. Overall, users can trigger Alexa with a wake-up call alert. Alexa, do that, for example. But in Bachchan’s case, Amazon introduced a two-word alarm clock to Alexa. “Amit ji.” (Where ‘ji’ is a Hindi word to pay homage.)

“At Amazon and Alexa, we are constantly innovating on behalf of our customers and creating the voice experience of celebrity Amitabh Bachchan with one of India’s most iconic voices has been a labor of love. The creation of the world’s first bilingual celebrity voice forced us to invent and reinvent almost every element of speech science – wake word, speech recognition, neural speech synthesis and more, ”said Puneesh Kumar, country leader for Alexa, Amazon India, in a statement.

“While we are proud of the many innovations and Indian delicacies in this area, we are still in day one and will continue to enrich this experience as science evolves. “

India is a key foreign market for Amazon, which has deployed more than $ 6.5 billion and is increasingly investing in startups. This is not the first time that the company has called on Bachchan for one of its activities. Last year, the company acquired the rights to Bachchan’s film “Gulabo Sitabo” for worldwide broadcast on Prime Video.

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