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Alexa just got even more personality.
Beginning Thursday, users of Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa can choose to have the device speak in the voices of Shaquille O’Neal and Melissa McCarthy. Bypassing the default robot voice to have the basketball legend or two-time Oscar nominee tell you the weather, play your songs or read poems costs $4.99 each.
The pair join “Pulp Fiction” star Samuel L. Jackson, 72, as alternative voice options for devices.
“I just wanted to add my personality to the Alexa experience,” O’Neal, 49, told Variety of his decision to lend his audio likeness to the voluntary wiretap. “I think the fans are gonna love it. They’re going to see a unique side of me.”
McCarthy offered a similarly earnest comment regarding giving voice to the AI-based recording and instructional device.
“That’s right folks, get ready for the vocal stylings of this nasal Midwestern gal!” the 50-year-old comedian and “Bridesmaids” star said in a statement provided to Variety by Amazon. “I am so excited to join the Alexa family. It’s been such a fun experience working on this project. I hope you all enjoy all my dad jokes! Fun fact — if you hear a slide whistle, it’s my personal one that I brought with me to the recording studio!”
Training the domestic robot device to imitate occasional rapper O’Neal took approximately 60 hours, said Amazon, which built a recording studio in O’Neal’s house for the audio venture.
“It was like reading out of the dictionary,” O’Neal reflected on the experience. While the machine only required 2½ days to fully adopt the NBA Hall of Famer’s audio equivalence, he called the process “the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.”
Among the personalized phrases that McCarthy offers in lieu of a feminized android are “I wish I had an exotic name like Svetlana or Giselle. But you can call me Melissa” and “Hey, remember when you said to set that alarm for you? Um — this is the alarm going off. So, you’ve been alarmed.”
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