Mobile navigation devices like TomTom and Garmin had a host of celebrity voices that could give you directions. As things shifted towards a smartphone-driven society, bulky GPS devices fell out of favor.
But the appetite remained for celebrities to tell you what your day is going to be like and the weather you can expect. To bring the two together, Amazon’s Alexa introduced the voice of actor Samuel L. Jackson in 2019.
Continuing the trend, Amazon has now released two more voices for the virtual assistant. If you’ve always wanted to be woken up by Shaq, now you can.
Here’s the backstory
For a fee of $4.99, the “Pulp Fiction” star can help you around the house. And as most people know, some of Jackson’s most iconic lines include explicit words. Amazon gave users the ability to turn explicit content on or off.
“We know customers enjoy hearing from their favorite celebrities. In fact, when we introduced the Samuel L. Jackson celebrity personality it quickly became the top-selling digital purchase on Amazon.com the day it launched,” Amazon said.
A bit less crude, Amazon has now made available the voices of actor Melissa McCarthy and NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal. Also available for $4.99 each, the pair can be asked the same questions or actions as Jackson.
Melissa McCarthy is best known for her comedic performances in films like “Bridesmaids,” “The Heat,” and 2016’s “Ghostbusters.” She was nominated for Academy Awards for her roles in “Bridesmaids” and the biographical film “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Shaquille O’Neal is a former professional basketball player and widely regarded as one of the greatest. His professional career spanned 19 years across six teams and managed to be an NBA Champion four times. He is currently an analyst on TNT’s “Inside the NBA.”
How to add celebrity voices to your Alexa-enabled device
The voices are part of Alexa’s Skills, which are add-ons that you can purchase for your Alexa-enabled devices. It works with most models, except the first-generation Echo and Echo Dot and wearables. Simply go to the Skills page and follow the purchasing instructions.
You can also do it through your device by saying “Alexa, introduce me to Melissa” or “Alexa, introduce me to Shaquille.” When prompted, confirm your purchase, and say “Hey Melissa” or “Hey Shaquille” to get going.
Just something to keep in mind: like with Jackson, McCarthy and O’Neal didn’t sit down to record each of the lines. The ability to hear their voices is achieved through machine learning and a healthy dose of AI. Some users have noted that there are some audible cut-and-paste words in certain phrases.