BBC to launch a rival to Amazon’s Alexa that will understand regional accents

The software is provisionally called Beeb

The new Amazon.com Inc. Echo sits on display during the company's product reveal launch event in downtown Seattle, Washington, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. Amazon unveiled a smaller, cheaper version of its popular Alexa-powered Echo speaker that the e-commerce giant said has better sound. Photographer: Daniel Berman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The BBC has announced that it is developing a voice assistant to rival Amazon’s Alexa that will be able to grasp regional accents in the UK.

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The software, provisionally called Beeb, has been created by an in-house BBC team, and this week the company will be asking staff in offices from various parts of the country to record their voices and ensure that it understands them.

Beeb will be built into the BBC’s website, the iPlayer app and on various smart TV’s, and there are currently no plans to release a standalone speaker like Amazon’s Echo.

Users will be able to activate the device by saying the word Beeb, and use it to engage with existing BBC content.

“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,” a spokesperson for the BBC said. “It will also allow the BBC to be much more ambitious in the content and features that listeners can enjoy.”

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Beeb is expected to launch next year.