Alexa from Amazon, Siri from Apple, Google Assistant or Cortana from Windows. They all have two things in common.
First of all, they are all AI-powered digital assistants made to imitate human voice. The second common thing is that, they are all female.
While some people may find a female voice to be more soothing, but in the world where technology is hardwiring sexism into the future, more and more people are demanding equality between genders. With so much female servitude in smart devices, this is where Q resides.
Q, is considered the world's first gender-neutral voice assistant.
Q is meant to end the gender bias in technology and AI assistants, by filling the gap for people who do not identify with either of the two stipulated genders..
"Think of me like Siri or Alexa, but neither male nor female," the disembodied voice said.
"I’m created for a future where we are no longer defined by gender, but rather how we define ourselves."
While most digital assistants use female voice, they can be programmed to use male voice.
But here, the developers of Q, want to end this female - male gender gap in digital assistant by introducing one that is none.
Q was created by a group of linguists, technologists, and sound designers, hoping to “end gender bias” and encourage “more inclusivity in voice technology.”
The team recorded the voices of two dozen people who identify as male, female, transgender, or non-binary in search for a voice that typically “does not fit within male or female binaries."
To find this particular voice, the team behind Q conducted a test involving over 4,600 people, who were asked to rate the voice on a scale of 1 (male) to 5 (female).
They recorded several voices, working on the pitch, the tone and the format filter to finally achieve Q's voice.
The final result falls into the sound parameters of 145 Hz to 175 Hz, considered a range defined by audio researchers as gender neutral.
This is not a coincidence, as most voice assistants are females.
What's more, they are all also named after female names, as the companies behind them believe that it will make people more comfortable adopting it.
Several studies suggest that users favor female voice when in need of assistance. This is why digital assistants by default, use female voice. The studies also suggest that users may favor a man’s voice when the situation calls for authority.
The team behind Q on the other hand, opposes this:
"As society continues to break down the gender binary, recognizing those who neither identify as male nor female, the technology we create should follow."