The Register-Guard – Creating the Right Voice to Reach the Consumer

The Register-Guard – It’s no coincidence that a majority of digital-assistant voices sound young and female. It’s what people want. “In our research for Cortana, both men and women prefer a woman, younger, for their personal assistant, by a country mile,” said Derek Connell, senior vice president for search at Microsoft. Designing the right voice to reach consumers is complex because it conveys emotion and social cues that visual content cannot, like gender and race.

Another challenge is creating a voice that people want to talk to. There is fine line between sounding too much like a computer and too much like an actual person. Consumers want it somewhere in the middle. As voice assistants become more popular, companies may get comfortable enough to try a voice that doesn’t sound like a well educated young woman. But not just yet. “It would be interesting to have a black guy talk, but we don’t want to create friction, either. First we need to sell products,” admits Jason Mars, an African-American professor of computer science and co-founder of Clinc Inc. LINK