A new Amazon Alexa update means that the virtual assistant will now whisper back to you if you whisper commands. Users can enable the “whisper mode” feature by saying to Alexa, “Turn on Whisper Mode,” according to Fortune. Some of the applications for the Whisper Mode might include times when you need to be quiet, like when putting kids to sleep, described Engadget. Plus, others noted that it’s a good thing that Alexa will now whisper because she was too “d*mn loud.”
However, some people are finding the new feature “creepy” at best. Dan Seifert from The Verge noted on Twitter that “Alexa’s new whisper mode is clever but also kinda super creepy???” Also, people commented on Wired’s Twitter post announcing the new feature with similar complaints.
One person said, “*Whispers* ‘Not creepy at all…'” while another person noted, “I was whispering so Elexa [sic] wouldn’t hear me.” Someone commented with a GIF of Jimmy Fallon with text at the bottom that said, “Survey says, creepy!” Another user had a suggestion, which was, “How about just being quiet?”
Also, some believe that there is another reason to enable this feature, as one user suggested that it’s “Nothing to do with not waking the house. Everything to do with acute eavesdropping.”
* Whispers * Starting today, Amazon's Alexa will notice if you speak quietly to it — and it will whisper its response back to you so you won't wake up the household with your question about the weather https://t.co/SldJmyfxSl— WIRED (@WIRED) October 19, 2018
Zeynab Raeesy from Amazon described the new update as a step forward in creating a more “natural” conversation flow between users and Alexa, saying “We would like Alexa to react to conversational cues in just such a natural, intuitive way.” They elaborated further.
“If you’re in a room where a child has just fallen asleep, and someone else walks in, you might start speaking in a whisper, to indicate that you’re trying to keep the room quiet. The other person will probably start whispering, too.”
Researchers were able to develop the Whisper Mode by figuring out how to pick up speech that’s “unvoiced,” which “doesn’t involve the vibration of the vocal cords, and it has less energy in lower frequency bands than ordinary speech.”
It’s hard to know right now whether the whisper mode will be successful in real-world applications. We’ll just have to wait and see as the feature was just released this week.
Amazon Alexa is widely used by many people, although some are wary of the technology thanks to some goof ups in the past. For example, a Portland couple was stunned when they realized that a private conversation was recorded by their Echo and then emailed to their colleague on accident, described The Verge.
People may also remember that back in March, Alexa started laughing at their users, which many also found to be creepy.