BBC to launch Alexa rival 'Beeb' next year

27/08/2019

The BBC is planning to launch a digital voice assistant next year that will work on all major smark speakers and mobile devices and recoignise regional UK accents better than rivals, the broadcaster claims.

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Called 'Beeb', the platform will not be a hardware device in its own right but is being designed to work on all smart speakers, TVs and mobiles.

BBC staff around the UK are being invited to record their voices to help train the programme to recognise different accents.

The BBC currently has no plans to launch a standalone physical product such as Amazon’s Echo speaker.

The voice assistant, which has been created by an in-house BBC team, will be launched next year, with a focus on enabling people to find their favourite programmes and interact with online services.

The platform will not attempt to replicate the full set of functions provided by major commercial rivals – partly because the BBC product has been developed by a much smaller team without the resources of major global technology companies.

The BBC already works with other voice assistants but it is increasingly pushing users towards its own products, partly so it can collect more data.

“With an assistant of its own, the BBC will have the freedom to experiment with new programmes, features and experiences without someone else’s permission to build it in a certain way. It will also allow the BBC to be much more ambitious in the content and features that listeners can enjoy,” said a spokesperson.

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