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The BBC — aka, the British Broadcasting Corporation, aka the Beeb, aka Auntie — is getting into the voice assistant game.
The Guardian reports the plan to launch an Alexa rival, which has been given the working title ‘Beeb’, and will apparently be light on features given the Corp’s relatively slender developer resources vs major global tech giants.
BBC - News - Site - Voice - Assistant
The BBC’s own news site says the digital voice assistant will launch next year without any proprietary hardware to house it. Instead the corporation is designing the software to work on “all smart speakers, TVs and mobiles”.
Why is a publicly funded broadcaster ploughing money into developing an AI when the market is replete with commercial offerings — from Amazon’s Alexa to Google’s Assistant, Apple’s Siri and Samsung’s Bixby to name a few? The intent is to “experiment with new programmes, features and experiences without someone else’s permission to build it in a certain way”, a BBC spokesperson told BBC news.
Corporation - Staff - Voice - Data - AI
The corporation is apparently asking its own staff to contribute voice data to help train the AI to understand the country’s smorgasbord of regional accents.
“Much like we did with BBC iPlayer, we want to make sure everyone can benefit from this new technology, and bring people exciting new content, programmes and services — in a trusted, easy-to-use way,” the spokesperson added. “This marks another step in ensuring public service values can be protected in a voice-enabled future.”
Glance - Move - Years - Dev - Edge
While at first glance the move looks reactionary and defensive, set against the years of dev already ploughed into cutting edge commercial voice AIs, the BBC has something those tech giant rivals lack: Not just regional British accents on tap — but easy access to a massive news and entertainment archive to...
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