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Alexa to go ‘desi’ soon: Amazon announces Hindi voice model for developers, device makers

FE Online

Amazon Alexa has been in India for quite a while but its biggest challenge, in the fight with Google Assistant, is the lack of ability to understand and speak Hindi. Last year, FE Tech was told by the sources, familiar with the development, that Amazon had asked developers to begin working on building Alexa skills in Hindi. In a post on July 15, Amazon announced it's inviting developers to build Alexa skills in Hindi.

The Alexa Skills Kit now comes with a new Hindi voice model that developers can access to build skills in the Hindi language. Amazon has provided a detailed guide to how developers can begin with the process. The commercial hardware manufacturers can request early access to the invite-only Alexa Voice Service developer preview to begin building Alexa in-built devices for Hindi speaking customers in India. Moreover, the developers with existing Alexa skills can update them for Hindi speaking audience by switching the language in the Alexa Developer Console.

Amazon is also organising a webinar on how developers can build skills in Hindi, presented by the company's technical evangelist (Sohan Maheshwar) and solutions architect (Karthik Ragubathy). If a developer succeeds in building Alexa skills in Hindi latest by July 31, Amazon will reward them with an "Early Bird Alexa" merchandise.

Amazon is picking use cases to market Alexa as a one-stop solution for manufacturers looking to integrate a voice assistant on their products. A few of them – Dish TV, Mybox, Sony, boAt – have shaken hands with Amazon to begin working on Alexa built-in devices that come preloaded with the Hindi language. The devices, though unconfirmed as of now, are said to launch in India "soon".

The smart speaker market in India is growing rapidly and Amazon's Alexa-powered Echo speaker range tops the charts. According to IDC's data released in March, Echo devices secured a market share of 59 per cent in 2018. Its Echo Dot (both second- and third-generation models) was the most popular speaker that sold every four units out of ten in India last year.