Adding more personality to personal assistants

Chris Mitchell

Written by
Dr Chris Mitchell, CEO and Founder

February 9, 2018

Amazon’s Super Bowl advert was all about two things: Alexa’s personality and her increasingly popular role at the centre of our home. The logic is that the more we can teach personal assistants (like Alexa) to display more personality the more human-like she seems, and the more she becomes part of the family.

When it comes to personality there are five major traits: openness, conscientiousness, agreeableness, extraversion and neuroticism.

At the moment, personal assistants are there when we need them. We wake them from their digital slumber and instruct them to play something, turn something on or find something. But personal assistants can and should understand more about the world around them, irrespective of the device they are on and whether we are there or not.

By making personal assistants context aware through sound we can help them to express more personality and be more useful, more conscientious, and perhaps a little bit more neurotic on our behalf. For example, what will Alexa do if your house was being broken-in to? Right now, she will get stolen (well at least her plastic casing will), but if she could recognise the sound of your back window being broken she could alert you and take other direct actions, like turning on your lights and playing loud music to deter the intruders.

Or maybe you’re cooking in a noisy kitchen. Recognising the challenging acoustic environment she could automatically adjust the music playback to help you hear your favourite music over the sound of a dishwasher, extractor fan, frying and washing machine.

Teaching the personal assistant to understand sound means that we can give them the contextual intelligence to react on our behalf and in a way that we have defined. What the personal assistant then does with that knowledge can be expressed in a number of ways (such as being conscientious or a bit neurotic). With that we can turn personal assistants into a trusted, helpful, protective member of the household rather than just a digital dogsbody*.

*a British phrase meaning ‘a person who is given menial tasks to do’

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Our software

Our embedded software platform, ai3™, is integrated into consumer products to make them more intelligent by understanding the sounds around them.

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Use cases

Our sound recognition software has been designed to work in a wide range of products from light bulbs, to smart speakers and beyond.

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