Amazon Alexa
Amazon wants to turn Alexa into a real-time translator. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Amazon’s Alexa assistant is already capable of performing a wide range of capabilities, but the company wants to push it even further. A new report claims that Amazon wants to turn Alexa into a translator that’s capable of not only translating phrases, but also incorporate culturally aware responses.

Sources familiar with the matter claim that Amazon is “seriously exploring” the possibility of making Alexa more useful across different languages and cultures, according to Yahoo Finance. One possible way of doing this is by having Alexa translate language in a more sophisticated manner.

For example, if a user from the U.S. is only capable of speaking English but he is at an event in Japan, Alexa will be able to help that user hold a conversation in Japanese. Alexa will also be mindful of the Japanese culture, which is more formal and conservative than American culture. To get a culturally aware translation, the user must be a little more specific when talking to Alexa. “Alexa, what do I say to the father of the bride at a wedding in Japan?”

Amazon Alexa is already capable of translating short sentences in English into 36 different languages, including Arabic, Hindi, Indonesian and Thai. However, this only works for short sentences and words. Context and cultural awareness is something that’s still missing. If Amazon is able to bring that to Alexa, its translation feature may become more useful in real-time moments, as pointed out by Mashable.

Amazon’s Ambition to turn Alexa into a real-time translator seems to be taking a page from Google Assistant. Last year, Google debuted the Pixel buds wireless headphones, which are capable of real-time translation using Assistant, Google Translate and the user’s Android phone. The Pixel Buds’ real-time translation feature received mixed reviews.

Meanwhile, other companies have also attempted to create something similar. Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant on its Galaxy phones is already capable of basic translations, while Bragi also created wireless earphones last year that featured real-time translation. Like with the Pixel Buds, Bragi’s own device wasn’t met with much success, as pointed out by The Verge.

In the long run, sources say, Amazon also wants Alexa to be able to translate conversations with multiple people speaking different languages all at once. This is still far off in the distant future, but it seems to show that Amazon is adamant in making Alexa the smartest voice assistant around.