Samsung Adds 3 South Korean Celebrities as Bixby Voice Options
Samsung has added South Korean celebrities as voice options for its Bixby voice assistant. The Bixby Celebrity Voice allows users in South Korea to pick one of three prominent actresses as the default voice for Bixby, with more expected to be added soon.
Using the neural text-to-speech technology developed by Samsung, Bixby can synthesize the voices of the actresses to respond to users. South Korean owners of Bixby devices can open the language settings and pick either Kang So-ra, Kim So-Hyun, or Kim Ye-Won to perform as their virtual assistant. All three are known for their voices as DJs and voiceover artists, which is why Samsung picked them to be the first wave of celebrity Bixby voices. Recordings made of the actresses were used to teach the voice AI how to speak similar to them. Samsung said the next step would be to add male celebrities, as well as more voices overall. Samsung didn’t reveal any plans to bring its celebrity voice feature to other countries. Still, presumably, if people take to the idea in South Korea, the company will start doing the same in other countries with celebrities that are popular locally.
Samsung is committing to the idea of using celebrities for voice assistants even more heavily than its rivals. Amazon debuted Samuel L. Jackson as the first celebrity voice for the Alexa voice assistant. Like Samsung, Jackson’s voice was built on neural text-to-speech technology, with the voice assistant learning how to sound like the actor in both explicit and family-friendly modes. There are also a few pre-recorded Easter eggs.
Jackson’s voice can’t handle everything that Alexa does, but it’s still more than what Google Assistant has done so far. Google just ended singer John Legend’s cameo performance for Google Assistant after about a year, although Insecure creator Issa Rae is still available as a feature. The difference is that Legend and Rae’s responses are mostly or entirely pre-recorded clips, respectively. Google Assistant is ahead of its competitors when it comes to languages and accents, but the celebrity angle is still in its early stages.
There could be a lot of value and associating famous people with certain voice assistants, however. The more recent Adobe Analytics Voice Report found that a third of the participants would like to have a celebrity voice as an option. Dwayne, “The Rock” Johnson, was the most popular option, followed by Will Smith. Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Chris Rock, and Oprah Winfrey. Amazon has also started offering aid for companies that want their Alexa skill to have a unique voice, even if it’s a modern take on Colonel Sanders for KFC Canada.