How Amazon Alexa keeps learning about India

Amazon Alexa has been available in India for over four years now. The voice assistant, which first debuted on Amazon Echo speakers, is now available on a range of third-party devices including smart TVs, smartphones, and wearables like smartwatches, as well as truly wireless stereo (TWS) headphones and earphones. And of course, there are Amazon’s own Echo devices. Although Alexa started its journey in India with only English, it has slowly begun to understand Hindi and Hinglish – a mix of Hindi and English – which is popular across the country.

On this week’s Gadgets 360 podcast episode Trajectoryhost Akhil Arora Speak to Dilip RS, Country Manager for Alexa Skills and Voice Services at Amazon India, to understand Alexa’s journey in the country. A conversation featuring audio expert Gadgets 360 Ali Pardiwalawho reviewed several Alexa-integrated devices.

Amazon official introduce Alexa comes to India through the first family of Echo speaker back in October 2017. The original Echo range was invite-only and made available to all customers in February 2018. However, shortly after the original Echo series, the voice assistant. has expanded domestically through third-party devices including speakers from Logitech and Harman Kardon and a Moto Mod for Motorola phones.

Before the official debut of Alexa In India, a lot of early adopters in the country – including our host country – tested the experience using Echo speakers from outside. But the official launch has given Amazon a bunch of data sets to polish localization. Dilip tells us Alexa now understands both From Hindi and Englishas well as a Multi-language mode in which you can interact with the voice assistant simultaneously in both languages.

“People who talk to Alexa in Hindi, they actually have a 50% higher number of questions,” he noted.

In 2018, Amazon introduced a skill called Cleo that helped Alexa learn Hindi and other Indian languages ​​directly from users. The engineering team at Amazon then built a bilingual Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) system that allowed Alexa to understand Hindi and English words at the same time. The system also includes slots to combine content from multiple Indian languages ​​in Telugu, Tamil and Marathi, Dilip told us in chat.

“Alexa has to really understand what language the customer is intending to use and even respond in that language,” he added.

Dilip also revealed that over the past four years, Echo devices have expanded their reach to nearly 85% of pin codes in the country. These are no longer limited to a few municipalities, but are available in cities like Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh and Bundi, Rajasthan.

Beyond regular consumers, Amazon is seeing government school teachers in India using Alexa-powered Echo or third-party devices in their classrooms for their students to interact freely. and improve their direction. “The kids are asking questions they’re not comfortable asking their teachers,” says Dilip. “Their attendance rates go up in school.”

We also talk about the privacy side of things and how Alexa works even in areas where Internet connectivity isn’t on par with metro cities. You can listen to all this and more by tapping the play button on the Spotify player embedded above.

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