Updated December 2, 2017
Amazon in October launched a feature that enables Alexa to identify individuals by voice. That means multiple users in a household can have a customized experience based on their voice signature. However, those capabilities have so far not been available to third party Alexa skill developers. TechCrunch reported that the voice signature features will soon be available to developers. Sarah Perez reported the news based on comments made during a keynote address at Amazon’s re:Invent conference.
Developers will soon be able to access new technology that can recognize the individual voices of the persons using their voice app…In early 2018, Amazon says this technology will make its way to third-party developers as well, allowing them to build personalized experiences into their skills.
Amazon’s Jeff Blankenburg followed up on this a day later with blog post that shed more light on the new feature.
“When a customer with a voice profile interacts with a compatible skill, Alexa will send that skill a directed identifier, which is a generated string of characters and numbers. Every time that same customer interacts with that same skill on their devices, the same identifier will be shared. The identifier does not contain any personally identifiable information and is different for each voice profile for each skill.
“Because this identifier is unique and persistent, skills can use it to remember past interactions or preferences set by the person using the skill, and in turn provide a more personalized experience. Developers in the preview may also choose to map the identifier with a particular customer in their system.”
This is one of the most important features that can transform Alexa from a general use assistant to a personal assistant. Interestingly, the announcement pointed out that the early skills using the feature are all part of the new Alexa for Business program.
The Three-Phase Amazon Alexa Feature Roll-out
The reveal follows a typical pattern of new feature introduction by Amazon. It’s a three phase process. Features often show up first in the native Alexa skills, followed by a developer preview where the feature is available in limited release before made available to the full developer community. Individualized voice experiences are currently in phase one. The new Alexa skill notifications feature announced yesterday is in phase two.
Customized Alexa Skills By User Voice
This voice signature feature is a first step in making Alexa a truly personalized voice assistant. Today, Alexa mostly knows general information that is doled out to all users. There are a few customized Alexa skill features such as calendar and shopping notifications. Voice signatures for users takes this to a new level and it is great that the it will soon be available to third party developers. You can imagine that the voice signature recognition could evolve beyond owned devices to identify users on any Alexa-enabled device. That would mean users could have a customized Alexa experience anywhere Alexa is available. Your voice may soon become the new key to link identity with computing.