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Emerging chat-bots and talking search engines offer us a lot of potential. But while their ability to interpret our natural language has gotten better, they're strength still lies mostly in responding to discrete commands and queries like "Open the pod bay doors".

One easy feature that could greatly increase both the personalization of the technology, and also the person-like sensation of interacting with them, would be RSS-to-TTS integration. RSS is the common standard for distributing website updates like news, weather, blog posts, etc. Text-to-speech (TTS) simply converts text into spoken voice. You can play with TTS online here, or just install a TTS app on your phone.

With RSS-to-TTS integration, your Amazon Echo, Apple Siri, or Microsoft Cortana assistant could enable scenarios like these:

7am weekdays I'd like my Echo to say "Good morning, here are today's updates:..." and then (via text-to-speech) deliver content from a variety of RSS feeds I've given it. Rather than pick from pre-packaged/partner content (NPR, BBC, Slate, etc), I'd like to use my own sources to personalize the briefing. Let's say the top 3 updates from a local RSS feed, 2 top national news stories, 1 top technology story, 3 overseas stories, 1 ukulele tip, the local weather, the pollen count (if above a minimum #), and a meditation Quote-of-The-Day.

When triggered (via an IFTTT recipe or an RSS feed update), I'd like my Echo to say, "I have an update for you from the <insert feed name> feed. Would you like to hear it?"

In scenario #2, if I didn't respond to the question (wasn't home), then upon my next use of the Echo, ask again.

Currently, the Amazon Echo only offers a limited number of sources for its "Daily Briefing" feature. And you have to request the device brief you. If that could be scheduled or event-triggered (when feeds update), it would seem more personal. There are already several online RSS/TTS services like: and I imagine a crafty user could build an Amazon Alexa skill without to much trouble. 😉

Let me know if you want to work in this with me 😉