Alexa.. Naam to Suna hi hoga.. A cliched dialogue in a clever new context set the tone for Amazon’s big new rollout. Last year Google announced support for Hindi across its smart speakers. Amazon that has an edge in India over Google in the smart speaker segment (source: IDC) announced that its range of smart speakers can now strike conversations in Hindi.
A larger than life image of Captain Kirk, from Star Trek was one of the analogies that Amazon leaned on as it traced the Alexa journey. In many ways Captain Kirk’s computer was the precursor and the inspiration for Amazon’s Alexa.
Rohit Prasad, Head Scientist and Vice-President, Alexa AI at Amazon, spoke about the Hindi implementation that took more than a year as Alexa had to come to terms with contextual and cultural challenges. Alexa can decode instructions not just in Hindi but also Hinglish, evidence of Amazon’s ‘Deep learning’ at play. And just like Alexa’s English and other global language versions, this one’s got a mind of its own with clever and witty responses. The feature is available in the Alexa app settings.
Amazon understands that most Indian homes are multi-lingual. While the feature currently supports only one voice type in Hindi, Amazon announced that it will offer multi-lingual household support shortly enabling family members to converse with Alexa in English or Hindi. With over 70% of Amazon’s customer base in tier-2 cities and towns, Alexa’s Hindi version is a logical step with other Indian languages likely to follow suit. Amazon had already enabled developers to update ‘Skills’ in Hindi; more than 500 skills on the store support Hindi. The Hindi version marks a big step for Alexa that began its India journey back in 2017 after its global debut in 2014.
Alexa in Hindi is available on Amazon smart speakers like the Echo Plus and third party manufacturers like Bose and iBall.