In short: There has been a lot of talk about AI being able to perfectly imitate a person’s voice and the potential dangers that can bring, but Samsung wants to use the technology in a less sinister way. The company’s Bixby Text Call feature, which converts text to speech for phone calls, got an update, so the voice it uses is an exact copy of the user.
Bixby Text Call, part of Samsung’s One UI 5.1, gives users the option to type a message instead of answering an incoming phone call. Instead of sending this message as a text, Bixby converts it into voice-generated audio, which it plays when answering the call.
The service uses several default voices for reading messages aloud. But a new update uses a copy of your own voice for text responses. This is achieved by recording several sentences of your voice with Bixby Voice Creator, which creates an AI-generated copy down to the tone.
The Bixby Text Call feature is now available in English. The AI voice-generator is only available in Korea for now, but it’s rolling out to English speakers with the Galaxy S23 series later this month. Samsung says it plans to make the generated voice compatible with other Samsung apps “beyond phone calls.”
Mimicking a person’s voice often raises fears about possible scams or other crimes if someone steals the phone and gains access to it, but Samsung says the feature notifies callers that there is talking to Bixby and not the person they called.
It was only last week that we heard about an Apple patent that could allow an iMessage to be read aloud by the sender’s own voice. It appears to be similar to what Samsung offers, although Apple’s version is tied to its iMessage service.
2023 is just two months away, and it looks like it will be remembered as the year AI went mainstream. One only has to look at all the stories about ChatGPT, voice production systems, and autonomous military vehicles for an idea of what the future holds.