The BBC, aka the British Broadcasting Corporation, aka the Beeb, aka Auntie, is rolling into the voice assistant game.
The Guardian reported that the plan to launch Alexa’s rival, which has been named “Beeb,” will be light on features. This is because the Corp’s relatively slender developer resources are up against major global tech giants.
The BBC owned news site said that the digital voice assistant would be launched next year. The device would not require any proprietary hardware. Instead, the company is designing the software to work on all smart speakers, TVs and mobiles.
Though the question does arise, that why is a publicly funded broadcaster spending money into developing an AI? After all, the market is already filled with commercial offerings from Amazon’s Alexa to Google’s Assistant, Apple’s Siri and Samsung’s Bixby.
Why is BBC Taking This Step?
A BBC spokesperson told BBC news that the answer is to experiment with new programmes, features and experiences without someone else’s permission to build it in a certain way.
The corporation is asking its staff to contribute voice data to help train the AI to understand the country’s wide range of regional accents.
The spokesperson also added, similar to the BBC iPlayer; they want to make sure that everyone can benefit from this new technology.
They also want to bring to people exciting new content, programmes and services in a trusted and easy-to-use way.
This also marks another step in making sure that public service values can be protected in a voice-enabled future.
What Competitive Edge Does BBC Have?
BBC also has something that its giant tech rivals lack. They don’t just have regional British accents on tap but also easy access to a huge news and entertainment data base. This database can be used to design voice assistants that could serve up beloved personalities as a service.
So while Beeb cannot expect to compete at the same technology feature level as the Alexa and all the others, it could show them some tricks on how they can be an influence on other people.
At the very least they should give their monotonous, robotic voices some much needed creative competition.
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