‘Hey Disney’ Custom Alexa Assistant Arrives This Year
Disney’s custom Alexa assistant Hey Disney! announced last year is on public display for the first time ahead of a planned launch in the Alexa Skills Store later this year. The demo taking place at CES in Las Vegas teases the arrival of the branded voice assistant for purchase as a skill of a feature of the Amazon Kids+ subscription service.
The Hey, Disney! AI will offer more than 1,0000 conversations, stories, games, jokes, and other interactions with Disney characters, to begin with, hosted by the new Disney Magical Companion. The branded voice assistant augments the Disney-built features and services with Alexa’s AI as support. The Disney Magical Companion acts as a host and MC for the voice AI, introducing the user to a collection of more than 25 Disney characters, including Disney-owned brands like Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and the Muppets. The alarms, weather reports, and other Alexa features replace the standard voice with a relevant character; Olaf the snowman gives weather reports, for instance.
“Even when I ask Disney for everyday things, it does it in a Disney personality, and it’s magical. I also love when the assistants work with each other and when it sends things off to Alexa for an answer,” Alexa director of customer experience Nataki Edwards told Voicebot in an interview. “You can end up going on an adventure with Pluto or listening to a Star Wars soundscape.”
Amazon created the Alexa Custom Assistant to simplify building custom, branded voice assistants supported by Alexa’s AI. The idea is to make it cheaper and faster for companies wanting to deploy a custom voice experience with their own voice, wake word, and more. The platform eliminates the need to design, build, and update natural language engines and other necessities. Amazon hasn’t given an exact date or price for the release of the home version of “Hey Disney” but presumably, it will be relatively soon since the demo is already usable.
The custom-built version of Alexa has already begun appearing at Walt Disney World in a select number of rooms at the Polynesian Village ahead of a wider rollout at the theme park. The role of the voice at Disney resorts has since grown to include access through the MagicBand+ wearable device for those exploring Disney’s theme parks.
“Disney is the master storyteller, and its stories are so powerful for so many people. Now people can keep talking to a character, they can continue with the storyline when they go back to their room at the end of the day or when they go home after the vacation is over,” Alexa vice president Aaron Rubenson said. “It’s just gratifying to imagine that we’re a part of literally bringing that magic home.”