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BBC to launch voice assistant that'll actually understand British accents

The digital assistant, called Beeb, is expected to launch next year.

London Big Ben Houses Parliament traffic zooming Westminster Bridge UK

The BBC is developing its own voice assistant.

William Fawcett / Getty Images

The BBC is developing its own digital voice assistant that'll offer an alternative to services like Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant. The first step in that process: collecting recordings from BBC teams around the UK to make sure its assistant has a grasp on regional accents. 

The BBC on Tuesday said its voice assistant, which will use the wake word "Beeb," is expected to launch next year. It'll let people interact with BBC programs and online services and work on devices like smart speakers and phones

"Around one in five adults have a smart speaker in their home – and millions more have voice-activated devices in their pockets – so there is growing demand from people to access programmes and services with their voice," said a BBC spokesperson in an emailed statement Tuesday. "We want to make sure everyone can benefit from this new technology, and bring people exciting new content, programmes and services – in a trusted, easy-to-use way."

The BBC doesn't currently plan to launch its own standalone hardware device that'll use Beeb, according to The Guardian. Instead, the voice assistant will reportedly be built into the BBC's website and its iPlayer app, and be available for manufacturers to incorporate into devices. 

The BBC said building its own digital assistant will let it experiment with new programs, features and experiences for its audience. The public broadcaster also said its voice assistant will embody the values of "trust and quality" and be free of "commercial interests."

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