Amazon rolls out India’s first celebrity voice on Alexa with Amitabh Bachchan – TechCrunch

Amazon has rolled out India’s first movie star voice function on Alexa with the nation’s largest film star Amitabh Bachchan as the corporate makes a push to lure extra customers on the earth’s second-most populated nation.

The corporate, which rolled out the voice of Samuel Jackson on Alexa within the U.S. in 2019, mentioned customers in India can add the Bollywood legend’s voice to their Echo units (beginning right this moment) or Amazon buying app (in just a few weeks) for an introductory worth of 149 Indian rupees ($2) for the primary 12 months. (Beginning second 12 months, the annual worth will transfer to $four.)

The 78-year-old actor is offering Amazon with tales from his life, a number of poems from his father, tongue twisters, and motivational quotes. Amazon clients also can ask Alexa to play music, set alarms, get climate updates and get solutions in Bachchan’s signature fashion.

And the corporate mentioned it’s also making use of neural speech know-how to make Alexa sound like Bachchan even when there’s no direct pre-recording. (Amit ji, remind me to ask you about Amazon’s antitrust scenario in India later right this moment.)

Picture credit: Amazon

“Working with Amazon to introduce my voice on Alexa was a brand new expertise in bringing collectively the magic of voice know-how and inventive creativity. I’m excited that my well-wishers can now work together with me through this new medium, and looking out ahead to listen to how they really feel about this,” mentioned Bachchan in a press release.

A family title, Bachchan emerged as Bollywood’s prime star within the 1970s enjoying characters who battled corruption and social injustice. He has additionally executed scores of commercials for manufacturers and initiatives from all the things together with hair oil, biscuits, chilly drinks, jewellery, state tourism, banks to UNICEF-backed polio vaccination marketing campaign.

The corporate introduced its collaboration with Bollywood legend final 12 months. However the pandemic pressured Amazon’s engineering groups to work remotely for this challenge. There have been additionally extra issues. Globally, customers can set off Alexa with one-word wake alert. Alexa, do that, as an illustration. However in case of Bachchan, Amazon has introduce a two-word wake system to Alexa. “Amit ji.” (The place ‘ji’ is a Hindi phrase to pay respect.)

“At Amazon & Alexa, we constantly innovate on behalf of our clients and constructing the Amitabh Bachchan movie star voice expertise with one among India’s most iconic voices has been a labor of affection. Creating the world’s first bi-lingual movie star voice required us to invent & re-invent throughout virtually each component of speech science – wake phrase, speech recognition, neural text-to-speech and extra,” mentioned Puneesh Kumar, Nation Chief for Alexa, Amazon India, in a press release.

“Whereas we’re pleased with the various India-first improvements and desi-delighters on this, it’s nonetheless Day 1 and we’ll proceed to counterpoint this expertise as science evolves.”

India is a key abroad marketplace for Amazon, which has deployed over $6.5 billion and is more and more making funding in startups. This isn’t the primary time the corporate has signed up Bachchan for one among its companies. The corporate final 12 months acquired Bachchan’s “Gulabo Sitabo” film rights for streaming globally on Prime Video.