The Amazon Echo is a popular fixture in many smart homes. And as anyone who has one knows, it works primarily by responding to voice commands. Via the Alexa app, your Echo can even remember your name and your voice. But how?
How does the voice recognition feature in the Amazon Echo work? And what do you do if you don’t want to deal with it?
What is the Amazon Echo?
The Amazon Echo is Amazon’s own smart home speaker and hub. As a hub, it’s designed to work with a variety of different smart home manufacturers and their various devices such as smart cameras, bulbs, and plugs, enabling them to work together. When all of your smart home devices work together, it helps your smart home run smoothly.
The Echo comes in different versions, such as the Echo Dot, Echo Kids, and Echo Show. The Echo Show features a screen by which you can see things like the camera feed from your smart cameras, or the name of the current song playing.
As a speaker, the Amazon Echo can play your music, tell you weather and traffic conditions, and even keep you up to date on local news. The Echo works using the settings you’ve specified in the Alexa app. To activate it, all you need to do is speak the wake word, such as ‘Alexa’, ‘Echo’, or another word you specified in the Alexa app. Then you can tell your Echo exactly what you want it to do (i.e. “Echo, turn on the Keurig”).
The Alexa app is essentially the hub of control for your Echo devices. Here is where you can connect your various smart home devices, as well as set up routines for all of them. You can also connect your Echo to different apps that you use, such as Pandora, so you can stream your favorite stations straight from the Echo.
One notable feature of Alexa and the Amazon Echo is voice recognition. This feature enables your Echo to recognize your voice, and even say your name when it recognizes your voice. But how exactly does this work?
Getting to Know You: How Your Echo Recognizes Your Voice
Voice recognition is some state-of-the-art technology if you think about it. The ability to distinguish one voice from countless others is pretty amazing. And to think, your Echo – via Alexa – can do just that! But how does it do it, exactly?
How Alexa Learns Your Name & Voice
When you first get your Amazon Echo and start setting it up, it will go through a variety of voice prompts. These prompts are designed to customize your experience and preferences with your Echo. Either the day you set up your Echo, or in subsequent days, one of the things you’ll eventually hear Alexa ask for is your name.
If you agree and decide you want Alexa to use your name, shortly thereafter you’ll be asked to say a few short phrases. This is what Alexa does in order to get to know your unique voice and create a voice profile for you.
Once that’s set up, from there on, Alexa will be able to recognize your voice, as opposed to those of other household members or even guests. You’ll soon notice her use your voice when you ask Alexa for certain things. When your voice is recognized, she may respond with your name first, then give you the information you asked for (i.e. “Yvette, here’s your Flash Briefing”).
Once you create their voice profiles, Alexa can recognize up to 10 different voices on one account. But they have to be added on as members of your household first.
How to Create Voice Profiles for Your Family
To create a profile for another adult or teen household member, you would first need to go to Amazon.com to add them as members of your Amazon Household. On Amazon.com, you’ll go to Account, then scroll down to the section ‘Shopping Programs and rentals’. In that section you’ll find ‘Amazon Household’.
You’ll then be asked for their name and email so that they can be invited to join your family. Once they accept the invitation, they can follow the prompts from there to be added to your Family.
To add kids under age 12, you would simply enter their information into your Household at Amazon.com. Once the family member has been added to your Profile and Family, they can then add their own voice to the Alexa profile.
Alexa will then be able to recognize them and create a curated experience for each user.
What if Alexa Says Your Name Wrong?
If you have a somewhat complicated (or not so complicated!) name, sometimes Alexa will pronounce it wrong. But it’s to be expected. After all, sometimes even human beings don’t pronounce my name properly!
Fortunately, all is not lost – you can easily tweak Alexa so that it pronounces your name correctly. You would just go into your Alexa app’s Settings, then to your Profile & Family.
There, you can click on your name. Under your name, in blue letters, you’ll see “Edit name and pronunciation.”
On the next screen, you’ll save your name and move on to pronunciation. There will be a play button so you can hear it pronounced. If it’s great, you can just choose “Nailed It”. If not, you’ll select “Let’s Fix This”.
On the next screen, you’ll be presented with pronunciation options.
If none of these work for you, the last option allows you to spell your name out phonetically. So, for example, Yvette would be spelled out, “Ee – Vet”.
Once you’ve done that, Alexa will be able to get your name right – finally!
How Did Alexa Know My Name – I Never Told Her!
Now, some Alexa/Echo users say that they never told Alexa their name, and yet she’s using it. What’s that all about? Don’t worry, Alexa isn’t spying on you (we hope!)
It could just have something to do with the name on the Amazon account your Echo and Alexa are associated with. Alexa could just be using that name as a default, even if you didn’t ask her to.
Another explanation? Someone added it without you knowing. Maybe the account holder, if that isn’t you. You may have been added as a household member, and Alexa assumes that the voice is you. Now, if you are the account holder, perhaps someone with access to your account made some adjustments, which is why Alexa somehow knows your name.
Now let’s say Alexa using your name when you use your Echo is just, well, creepy. You don’t want your name used or your voice recognized anymore. What do you do?
How Can You Get Alexa to forget your Name and Voice?
So you don’t want Alexa to know your name or recognize your voice anymore – it’s just creeping you out. Or, let’s say you’ve been trying to get Alexa to stop trying to set up a voice profile for you, but you keep getting asked. Telling her no repeatedly will definitely get exhausting!
So if you want to get rid of your voice profile, you’ll go to the Alexa app, then to Settings, then Profile and Family. From there, you’ll select your name and simply select Delete Voice ID.
Alexa will no longer recognize your voice or remember your name, but you can add it back later on if you like. If you go on to your Account on Amazon.com, you can also delete profiles. However, if you’re the account holder, you can’t delete your profile altogether, just your Voice ID.
Now let’s say you want Alexa to stop asking you to create a voice profile. The Alexa app used to have an option where you can hit a toggle and disable Automatic Voice Recognition. Unfortunately, this option is no longer available.
In order to stop these voice recognition requests completely, users have had to call Amazon directly. After much deliberation, they were able to remove something called a ‘Voice Request Profile’. This should stop the requests for Alexa to learn your voice and name.
It’s not impossible, however, that even with this intervention, Alexa may try again sometime in the future. This feature is highly acclaimed by Amazon, and they’re pretty insistent about their users having access to and using it.
Say My Name – Or Don’t
Alexa’s voice recognition technology can be useful in terms of getting content from your Echo specifically catered to you. You can even make sure your name is pronounced correctly! But it can also be a bit weird if you don’t want some machine calling your name.
If you’re into it, great, you’ll enjoy Alexa and your Echo’s voice recognition feature. If not, fortunately, you don’t have to deal with it. With some tinkering in the settings, you can get Alexa to not say your name.