You may know about our artificial intelligence-powered Xfinity X1 Voice remote, but did you know that it also understands Spanish? This Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re shining a spotlight on an essential feature of the world’s best voice-control platform for entertainment.
We’ve always worked hard to make sure our products are accessible to everyone, and a key part of that is including plenty of multilingual features and content for our customers who speak multiple languages, or for whom English is not their primary language.
Today, we process more than 6 million Spanish-language voice commands each month for customers who set their primary X1 language as Spanish. Such commands include “películas en español,” “música,” and "novelas” among hundreds more, and that number is only going up.
Making the technology behind this work was its own unique challenge.
Unlike a personal electronic device like a phone, which can just be set to a mode where it only takes Spanish-language inputs and gives only Spanish responses, we knew that many of our Spanish-speaking customers lived in homes where both English and Spanish are spoken interchangeably.
Normal human speech patterns make things even more complex. There are many ways to ask the same question, many ways to blend Spanish and English, and someone from Colombia might give a command that differs in tone and grammar from a command given by someone from Mexico.
To compensate for that, we not only built both Spanish and English voice databases, we also designed the technology so that when a customer makes a command, the voice platform reaches out to both databases simultaneously to deliver the correct result. We make manual changes to ensure we are capturing the most popular commands and train our AI and machine learning algorithms to continuously improve.
And we’re not stopping there. Today our technology team is working to make that experience even smoother by developing “deep learning” tools that can quickly understand what language a customer is speaking, and respond almost instantly.
As for how Spanish language X1 commands compare to those in English, there are a lot of similarities but some interesting differences.
First of all, we know everyone loves free movies. “Free movies” is the most popular command in English, and “películas gratis” is the number one command in Spanish. Further down the list though, “fútbol” was the third most popular command in Spanish, while “movies” was the third most popular in English.
One thing that’s clear is that our customers love the voice remote in any language. We’ve connected 23 million of the devices to our customers, who in turn gave more than 3.5 billion voice commands in the first half of 2018 alone. Our focus now is to continue to improve that experience, with smarter, faster AI tools, and an ever-growing range of connected-home commands that customers can deliver from the comfort of their couch.