How to improve understanding ofAlexa, Google Assistant or Siri?

The voice assistants are now an integral part of our lives and many people call on them several times a day. Yes Amazon Alexa is good at controlling your connected objects, Google Assistant to do research on the Internet and Siri to respond quickly to a message, all nevertheless know some hiccups. Fortunately, you will see it, it is quite possible toimprove understanding of our assistants by setting them correctly and taking some good habits ...

1 - Free your microphones

The microphones of our devices are the ears of our assistants. Like the latter, you must therefore take care of them and leave them free ...

  • Smartphones : be careful not to block the microphones with your fingers, it's a bit like plugging your assistant's ears!
  • Connected speakers : we recommend that you place them at least 20 centimeters from a wall and place your orders remotely. Alexa doesn't hear much better if you're right on top of your pregnant Amazon Echo and Google Assistant will have a harder time understanding you if your Nest audio is placed in the corner of your room. Indeed, all use long range microphones set to hear you from afar ... Placed too high, your speakers will also be less effective than one meter above the ground. Finally, avoid placing them too close to other electronic devices such as microwave ovens, etc.
  • Microphone maintenance : on a smartphone, make sure the openings are not blocked. Like the USB socket, they can easily get filled with dirt. Like any electronic device, connected speakers attract dust, so remember to wipe them off from time to time. The most manic will use their broom vacuum or even a bomb of compressed air to leave nothing!
  • Adjust the sensitivity of Google Assistant : it is, for the moment, the only voice assistant that allows it. With this option, you can adjust the detection in five levels for each of your connected speakers or displays. Select the desired device and adjust the sensitivity from -2 to +2 using the cursor.
  • Spatialization : some speakers like Echo Studio, Echo Show 10, Sonos One or even player Free | Devialet perform spatialization which may require a restart in the event of a change of location. If its main purpose is to optimize the sound scene, it will have consequences on the refractions of the sound waves picked up by the microphones.
Echo Show 10: the screen connected to Alexa has its effect!

2- speak naturally

Alexa is deaf? Google Assistant hears nothing? Siri is blocked? No, not really if you speak to them normally and your speakers are placed correctly ...

Yelling at them will not help matters, on the contrary, because all of them use algorithms to automatic natural language processing. Yes, we did say natural, there is no point in raising the tone and it is equally useless to talk to them robotically.

In short, make full sentences and use a your normal, as if it were a relative. You'll see, your voice assistant will understand you better and it's still a lot more enjoyable on a daily basis, isn't it?

Always listening, the natural language recognition algorithms must isolate the sentence from the background noise, detect the famous “wake words”Or activation words, and locate the beginning as well as the end of this sentence before being able to analyze it. All in a continuous flow of speech that can be punctuated by more or less long pauses. Suffice to say that the exercise is complex.

3- Create voice prints

The three main assistants on the market offer options to improve their accuracy, feel free to use them!

Configure profiles Alexa :

Alexa can recognize up to six different people and use two languages ​​on the same account, handy if you have family members with foreign accents. It's a quick and easy process, but the improvement will also be done gradually and your assistant will become more efficient over time ...

  • Open your application Alexa,
  • Go to More> Settings,
  • Open " Your profile ",
  • Dance " Voice ", select " To manage ".
  • Create a voice profile following the instructions. Alexa will ask you to repeat a series of words and then be able to identify yourself. Ask him, " Alexa, who am I ? To verify and she should call you by your first name. This is an essential feature which is also very practical for personalizing your routines, not having to give a password for certain features such as disarming your alarm, etc.

Set up Google Assistant voiceprints

  • Open your application Google Home,
  • Select on your profile top right,
  • Go to Google Assistant settings > Voice Match
  • Click on "Voice print" and follow the instructions.

Teach Siri Words:

Apple's assistant is not left out and you have probably already trained it to recognize your voice when configuring your iPhone.

  • Open them IOS Settings,
  • Click on " Siri and Search« 
  • Reactivate the switch in "Listen to 'Hey Siri'".

Follow the directions to complete the setup process.

“Training your voice assistant is essential! "

4- Train your assistant

Training your voice assistant is essential! Inasmuch as " early user ", or early user in French, your participation in improvement programs is valuable and considerably increase the efficiency of your assistant.

Indeed, voice assistants use artificial intelligence algorithms constantly evolving. Although they are expected to use thedeep learning, The famous deep learning, they still mainly use the'machine learning, or machine learning. Although the first allows them to evolve on their own thanks to the assessments of users, the second still requires human intervention in order to provide them with the discriminating characteristics of the data and to notify them and then correct their classification errors. This is essential so that, subsequently, they are able to classify similar unknown information on their own.

You will therefore easily understand that it takes, on the one hand, a large amount of data to train an AI and, on the other hand, that humans can access it in the event of errors. The more data, the better the AI, the less need to correct it.

Indeed, AI feeds on data, the famous dates about which we speak so much… By dint of reading the sensationalist articles of certain sites, which very often feed the fears with the only aim of generating traffic, you probably fear that your assistant collects too much. This is understandable, but keep in mind that Locking everything is not a good idea however.

Between us, given the requests we make 99% of the time, there is no need to worry too much ... Unless you are a secret agent? In this case, you can very well use your "caption" ...

We invite you to let your voice assistant collect as much data as possible.

Indeed, be well aware that by not allowing it to collect information, you hinder your assistant's learning and its adaptation to you. It's like erasing your child's memory every night after their day at school. Suffice to say that his education may well be laborious. The same goes for your voice assistant who can therefore only progress thanks to the data of volunteers who probably do not have the same way of expressing themselves as you, different accents and incomparable habits.

Our experience as beta testersAlexa Besides, we have proved it because, if we had to regularly point out its mistakes and correct it 3 years ago, that is (almost) no longer the case today ... And, yet, some complain still problems of comprehension or even deafness. What to answer them? To simply do like us, and to educate their voice assistant on a daily basis.

Besides, if you use Alexa and you feel the soul of an AI teacher, you can go even further by reporting the successes and failures of your assistant. To do this, go to " Consult your voice history »And report them to Amazon using the famous blue thumbs. Note that you can also send a more exhaustive message in the Help section your application Alexa.

Another very convincing example, that ofAmazon Music. If you have just acquired Alexa, they are unlikely to provide you with your favorite tracks when you just ask them " play music". On the other hand, if you spend a few weeks giving it specific titles / styles, telling it that you like or do not like this or that title at all, you will see that it will progress in its choices until it reaches the without fail ! Or almost.

It's machine learning: Alexa label your choices and remember them. On the other hand, if you erase his memory in the evening, necessarily ...

Moreover, note that you can always delete any recordings that you consider sensitive at Amazon like at Google ...

In conclusion, you will have understood it: if your voice assistant doesn't understand anything, maybe it's a bit your fault. You now have everything you need to optimize your use. Note that sometimes you have to look a little for the ideal location of a speaker and several weeks / months for the improvement in its understanding to be noticeable. But don't worry, if you haven't had the plaster of their beginnings like us, the progress made over the past four years is quite impressive and they are not going to stop there… In short, put it into perspective, and above all have fun!
Fascinated by Alexa since the day I received it in beta test, I gradually became passionate about the subject, before deciding to go further by creating a site with Jean-Christophe. An activity that allows me to quench my thirst for new technologies and share my discoveries about the nicest of communities: Les Alexiens.