September 11, 2019 6:49:21 PM
Amazon Alexa users can now ask the digital assistant to speak more slowly as part of efforts to make the virtual helper easier to interact with.
The artificial intelligence-powered assistant is behind Amazon’s line of Echo smart devices and can be found in a number of smartphones.
Amazon has announced that users can now say “Alexa, speak slower” or “speak faster” to help make their encounters feel more natural and better understand what is being said.
The technology giant said it had received feedback from customers asking for ways to alter Alexa’s speaking rate.
The update will introduce seven different rates users can switch between, Amazon confirmed.
Sarah Caplener, Amazon’s head of Alexa for everyone, said: “We heard from customers that they would like the ability to change Alexa’s speaking rate for a variety of reasons.
“Some of our hard of hearing and older customers shared how they love talking to Alexa and how she has become a companion, but sometimes they would like her to slow down so they can better understand her responses.
“On the other hand, some of our customers who are blind or low vision are used to consuming audio content and want to be able to listen more quickly.”
The move has also been backed by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
Director of services David Clarke said: “This is great news from Amazon. We all have our own preferences when it comes to how we take information in so this is a really positive step towards better accessibility and inclusivity.
“Many blind and partially sighted people have told us they’d like the option of increasing the speech speed so we expect this development will be warmly welcomed. We are really pleased to continue to support Amazon in their efforts to create a device which is truly accessible for everyone.”