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Here’s how to set up whisper functionality on your Amazon Echo

Hey Alexa, keep it down.

an amazon echo dot device with alexa against a blue background
Image: Amazon

Amazon is now rolling out its new “whisper” mode for Alexa. The feature, which was first announced late last month, allows Alexa-enabled devices to listen for and respond to whispered speech and whisper a reply back. At launch, the new tool will be available on Echo devices.

How to activate it

Once implemented, Whispered Responses must be turned on via the Alexa app. Under Settings select Alexa Account > Alexa Voice Responses > Whispered Responses. Toggle your choice to the On position.

Image: Bryan Wolfe / KnowTechie

As we previously noted, the programming and logic behind Alexa’s whisper intelligence is complex. It’s a process that will be explained in December at the IEEE Workshop on Spoken Language Technology. The move is being described as part of the company’s push for Alexa to incorporate more natural, intuitive language and cue in on conversational clues.

As the Amazon blog post explained, when you whisper, the words come out unvoiced, which means there is little to no vibration of the vocal cords. Emulating this response from an Alexa unit without merely lowering the volume takes a certain amount of creative thinking. This is according to Zeynab Raeesy, a speech scientist in the Alexa Speech group.

This isn’t the only new Alexa feature to arrive in recent months

Earlier this year, Amazon added the ability for Alexa to make doctor’s appointments through Nimblr. With Answer Update, Alexa lets users know when it learns the answer to a question it didn’t know when you first asked. If you ask it a question and it is confused it will continue working on it in the background until it has an answer.

Amazon Alexa is also working with Microsoft Cortana so that both voice assistants can benefit from the other’s strengths. For example, Alexa can use Cortana’s deep access to Microsoft Outlook’s email and calendar day, while Cortana benefits from Alexa’s smart home controls and growing library of third-party skills.

Alexa’s Whisper feature sounds like a great idea, no? Let us know below. 

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Bryan considers himself a well-rounded techie, having written articles for MakeUseOf, KnowTechie, AppAdvice, iDownload Blog. When he's not writing, he's being a single dad and rooting for his alma mater, Penn State, or cheering on the Patriots.

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