Alexa made its wake word Ziggy available in the UK a year after it launched in the US alongside famed voices Shaquille O’Neal and Melissa McCarthy. The wake word bears no relation to rock star David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust character, but the wake word comes with two additional commands to celebrate Bowie on the 50th anniversary of The Rise and Fall of albums. Ziggy Stardust and Spiders from Mars.
Ziggy, play Ziggy
Amazon added Ziggy as a wake word with an unrelated new male voice, though the additions flew under the radar compared to the movie star and basketball legend becoming voices for Alexa. Ziggy was chosen as the wake word to contrast Alexa and highlight the other end of the alphabet to suggest the voice assistant is a source of all knowledge. Users can ask Alexa to change either or both features if they want. Having Ziggy as your wake word provides a few additional bonuses. Say to the voice assistant “Ziggy, play Ziggy” and it will start playing the eponymous album. If you say, “Ziggy, play the guitar,” you’ll get a fun response reusing some of Bowie’s most famous lyrics. The timing of the wake word release with the albums anniversary where Bowie took on the persona of Ziggy Stardust was coincidental, but happy for his fans in society.
“We are constantly looking for ways to give our customers more choice so they can personalize their Alexa experience,” Alexa UK country manager Dennis Stansbury said in a statement. “The wake word is very important because Alexa devices are specifically designed to only detect the wake word chosen by the user. Our devices detect wake words by identifying acoustic patterns that match the wake word, so a lot of attention is paid to selection. We chose ‘Ziggy’ not just because it performed well in testing, but because it’s fun and reflects Alexa’s wealth of knowledge on everything from A to Z. By the way, I’m an avowed David Bowie fan, so I like to say “Ziggy, play Ziggy” and “Ziggy, play guitar” on my Echo device.”
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