Samuel J. Jackson Celebrity Voice (for Alexa): 1st Impressions

Samuel J. Jackson Celebrity Voice (for Alexa): 1st Impressions

This was fun!

I’m seeing some misleading headlines on this, but I thought it was well worth the $0.99.

What is it?

You can add Samuel L. Jackson’s voice to Alexa.

The easiest way? Just say, “Alexa, introduce me to Samuel L. Jackson,” and there will be an offer made for you to purchase the voice.

Jackson doesn’t replace Alexa’s voice, contrary to some headlines. It’s an addition.

Every time you want to evoke Jackson, you say, “Alexa, ask Sam to…”

It also seemed that it took a bit longer to process and carry out the action than Alexa does, but I didn’t objectively time it.

Once you get to it, though, it sounds good. In fact, and this is important, even if you had no idea who Samuel L. Jackson was (which is extremely unlikely), you might still prefer that voice to the standard Alexa voice. It sounds much more natural.

That is not, by the way, because it’s all recorded…it’s not. One way you can see that is to say, “Alexa, ask Sam to Wikipedia [something]).” Then, just as Alexa would do, the voice of Samuel L. Jackson will start reading the Wikipedia article (assuming one exists) about your search term.

Jackson can also tell you the time, answer your trivia/knowledge questions, and give you the weather.

I tried to get the Jackson voice to say whatever I wanted…for example, “Alexa, ask Sam to Simon Says…” but that didn’t work. Might have been nice for getting dinner reservations (just kidding, of course).

Some things were clearly Jackson specific: when I asked for a song, I got Jingle Bells in a very clearly Jackson version. Same thing with a joke: a specific Jackson joke.

I have mentioned this yet, but you can have a “clean” version or explicit version, the latter where Jackson swears. You can change that whenever you want in the Alexa App: Settings – Voice Responses – Celebrity Voices. I’ve only used the clean version.

Worth noting that when you pay the ninety-nine cents, it’s good on all of the Alexa devices on your account: I’ve used it on my Echo Auto and in the Alexa app in my phone. That means a fan could have fun with it without having an Alexa device, by just downloading the Alexa app to a SmartPhone.

The future of this?

Well, for one thing, the price for this will go up to $4.99…honestly, even though this is fun, I probably wouldn’t have paid that.

There will undoubtedly be other voices available before long. This is not the old method of someone spending days in a studio recording different phrases so they can get the sounds they want…this involved AI to extrapolate from a smaller set. While I certainly think living celebrities will be first (I could see Morgan Freeman & Scarlett Johansson), there are probably enough sound bites (and the amount needed will reduce over time as the software gets more sophisticated) to do, say, Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, or Vincent Price.

TomTom did Star Wars voices for its navigation systems…that could happen.

Another possibility? Having it learn your own voice. That might be something some people really want, so their digital assistants can fake being them on a phone call (this is in the future), or parents could “speak” to their children. Independent voice artists (or programmers) might be able to get some royalties from voices they create being made available. Much further? Video simulations…realistic avatars, augmented reality, and so on.

Another interesting possibility: using it to change someone’s voice, to make it easier to understand for someone with perhaps speech challenges…or engineered to make a politician more persuasive.

I would also say that they’ll be able to use information they learn from working with real voices to improve the naturalism of Alexa’s base voice.

What do you think? Have you tried it? Did you like it? What voices would you like to hear in the future? Do you worry about this technology being used for fraud? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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Bufo’s Alexa Skills

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :)

Shop ’til you help! 🙂 


One Response to “Samuel J. Jackson Celebrity Voice (for Alexa): 1st Impressions”

  1. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I think I’ll wait for Patrick Stewart’s voice—assuming I ever overcome my paranoia enough to invite Amazon to spy on me even more than it already does!

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