Gadgets

‘Hey, Disney!’ Amazon and Disney Created Alexa-Like Voice Assistants

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Hey Disney

The Amazon Echo has its first new voice assistant — a Disney-branded personality that brings its movie characters to life with games, bedtime stories, jokes, and sing-alongs, among other skills.

Meet Hey Disney — and saying those words will turn on a unique voice that coexists with Alexa on Echo devices, designed by Disney to unlock interactive Disney entertainment. It will be available next year for visitors at Walt Disney World hotel rooms and you can also buy as an add-on to anyone with an Echo device.

No demo of Disney’s assistant has been made available yet, but a preview of the voice will play if you ask Alexa “tell me about Hey Disney,” which can also be heard in the video player embedded above.

Disney hasn’t said how much this assistant will cost to download at home. But don’t think of it as a replacement for Alexa. Hey Disney doesn’t go shopping, read the news or control your smart home.

This “magical companion,” as Disney calls it, can bust out with jokes, trivia, or sing-alongs. It summons the voices of characters with stories and interactive games — not just with Mickey, but also characters from the stories of Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel. And it’ll play “soundscapes” as background sounds inspired by movies and theme parks.

Hey Disney

It’s programmed to do some of the basic Echo tricks, such as tell the time, read the weather, and set alarms (likely in a Disney-sorta-way). Disney says its custom voice has over 1,000 possible interactions — and if you have an Echo with a screen, there are visual elements, too.

In a video interview, Dan Soto, vice president of technology and digital at Disney Parks, said the company may add more features — or use it in new ways.

“This is just sort of scratching the surface on where we can take voice technology for our guests,” Soto added. “We got some pretty special ideas on what we can do for the future with it.”

The Echo Show 5, a display with a 5.5-inch touchscreen, is what’s coming to Disney’s hotel rooms in Florida. There is also a new OtterBox stand that puts Mickey Mouse ears on the Echo Show 5, available to preorder now for $25.

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