The remarkable drawl that embodies Southern culture may be responsible for the frustration many Alabamians feel when trying to get their smart tech to answer a question. The repeated “Sorry, I didn’t get that” can lead people with accents to underutilize voice-activated devices such as Alexa and Google Home that are rapidly growing in popularity.
A study conducted by the Washington Post and two research groups revealed people with Southern accents were three percent less likely to get accurate responses from a Google Home device than those with Western accents. Foreign accents face the largest challenge with 30 percent more inaccuracies.
But, help is on the way.
According to the study, the artificial intelligence used in programming the technology is taught to comprehend different accents by processing data from a variety of voices. The more it learns, the more accurate the programming will become. Even though these tools may be more useful for some people at the moment, Amazon, the maker of the smart home product Alexa, says to keep trying.
“The more we hear voices that follow certain speech patterns or have certain accents, the easier we find it to understand them. For Alexa, this no different,” Amazon said in a statement. “As more people speak to Alexa, and with various accents, Alexa’s understanding will improve.”
Over 20 percent of U.S. households with WiFi utilize smart speakers, and the number of users is growing. Hopefully, for the benefit of Alabamians, that growth will happen in the South.
Allison Ross is the owner of Yellowhammer News.