OK Beeb: BBC voice assistant will be taught regional accents

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A photo illustration shows a floating speech bubble over three smart speakers, with the speech bubble reading "Ok Beeb, play Radio 1"Image copyright Getty Images

Beeb, the BBC’s voice assistant, has been launched to early adopters for testing on Windows computer systems.

The voice assistant, which makes use of Microsoft expertise, is within the beta part – a interval when not all options are current or working correctly.

Its synthesised digital voice is predicated on that of a UK voice actor with a northern England accent.

And the workforce behind Beeb have been “working hard” to make sure it will possibly perceive different regional accents.

When a consumer downloads the beta model, they are going to be requested what accent they’ve – so their voice can be utilized to coach the assistant too.

But, the BBC says, no recordings can be saved – solely anonymised transcripts of the few seconds after a consumer says the wake command, “OK Beeb”.

Quite Interesting solutions

The beta model can entry BBC radio, music, podcasts, information and climate and reply to some queries with distinctive solutions primarily based on BBC programmes.

New options can be added in “coming weeks and months”, the BBC mentioned.

It had an “ambitious vision” for Beeb.

But there remained “a long way to go”.

And widespread options in different voice assistants, akin to timers, for instance, aren’t included on this first model.

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Media captionIs the voice assistant in your telephone sexist?

UK members of Microsoft’s Windows Insider programme utilizing the May 2020 Windows 10 working system replace can set up it from the Windows Store in the event that they already use a BBC account for iPlayer and Sounds, the BBC’s streaming providers.

The wake command might be adopted by others akin to:

  • “Update me,” for the information
  • “Play Radio 1,” – or a selected present
  • “Tell me a joke”
  • “Tell me a fact,” for trivia from QI (Quite Interesting)
  • “Do you like Killing Eve?”
  • “Will you be my boyfriend?” and different curveball questions

“Ultimately we envision that Beeb will be available across a wide range of devices, including smart speakers, mobiles, televisions and many others,” a consultant mentioned.

“This is still a very early version, which means that not everything will be working perfectly from day one, and the future Beeb assistant will be able to do a lot more.”