The BBC launched a new voice assistant today that strives to understand people with different accents. It’s called “Beeb” and it’s available in beta through the Microsoft Store. Beeb utilizes Microsoft’s Azure AI services for its infrastructure, which allows the BBC to build up an assistant without having to create its own AI.
As pointed out by Engadget, many digital assistants struggle with accents. The UK has a wide range of accents that can vary dramatically after travelling just a few miles. Beeb strives to understand these accents better than other digital assistants.
Windows Insiders based in the UK should be able to download the beta app from the Microsoft Store, though we had a hard time getting it on our systems. In its initial release, Beeb supports listening to on-demand radio, music mixes, podcasts, news, and weather updates. You can also ask it to tell jokes, which it will gladly provide from BBC comedy writers. It also has facts selected by QI’s Sandi Toksvig.
At least for now, the app doesn’t seem like it’s trying to compete with digital assistant giants like Alexa and Google Assistant. Instead, it allows people in the UK to listen to BBC content using an assistant that understands accents better than the competition.
Ey up Beeb
A digital assistant that understands you
This digital assistant is built on Azure AI and it understands various accents.