Amazon announced that celebrity voices are coming to their Alexa home assistant system. The first to sign up is Samuel L. Jackson, whose voice is famously unique. But how much of it is really Jackson, and how much is computer generated?
While Alexa has featured celebrity voices like Gordon Ramsay in the past, those Skills have only included a handful of pre-recorded phrases. The Guardian reports that this time, Amazon is using neural text-to-speech technology that can actually mimic Jackson’s voice, so you can really feel like you’re getting the current weather forecast from Hollywood’s highest-grossing actor himself.
Along with updating you on the weather, Jackson will be able to play music, set your alarm, sing you a “Happy Birthday” song, and more. But the Oscar nominee does have his limits: According to Amazon, Sam won’t be able to help with shopping, reminders, lists, or other Alexa Skills.
Jackson, of course, is almost as famous for his profanity as he is for roles in movies like 1994’s Pulp Fiction and 2000’s Shaft, not to mention various film appearances as Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And that proclivity for foul language will also be incorporated into his Alexa alter-ego: You can set your device to allow him to swear in his responses.
Jackson's voice will roll out at 99 cents as an introductory offer, then go to $4.99 later. Will hearing Jackson swear at you from your own Alexa device make up for the feeling that everyone at Amazon knows your business? Only time will tell. Read more about the plan at Mental Floss.
(Image credit: Kevin Tostado)