OpenAI unveils voice-activated ChatGPT AI model

ChatGPT maker OpenAI said Monday it would release a new AI model called GPT-4o, capable of realistic voice conversation and able to interact across text and vision, its latest move to stay ahead in a race to dominate the emerging technology.

The new audio capabilities enable users to speak to ChatGPT and obtain real-time responses with no delay, as well as interrupt ChatGPT while it is speaking, both hallmarks of realistic conversations that AI voice chatbots have not had until now, the OpenAI researchers showed at a livestream event.

Microsoft-backed OpenAI faces growing competition and pressure to expand the user base of ChatGPT, its popular chatbot product that wowed the world with its ability to produce human-like written content and top-notch software code.

In one demonstration, the ChatGPT voice assistant was able to read out a bedtime story in different voices, emotions and tones. REUTERS

OpenAI said it would roll out its new AI model over the next few weeks. Its chief technology officer, Mira Murati, said at the event that the new GPT-4o model would be offered for free because it is more efficient than the company’s previous models.

OpenAI researchers showed off ChatGPT’s new voice assistant capabilities. In one demonstration, the ChatGPT voice assistant was able to read out a bedtime story in different voices, emotions and tones.

In a second demonstration, the ChatGPT voice assistant used it vision capabilities to walk through solving a math equation written on a sheet of paper.

The researchers also demonstrated the GPT-4o model’s capability of real-time language translation.

Paid users of GPT-4o will have greater capacity limits than the company’s free users, Murati said.

Sam Altman
OpenAI is under pressure to expand the user base of ChatGPT. CEO Sam Altman, above. AFP via Getty Images

Shortly after launching in late 2022, ChatGPT was called the fastest application to ever reach 100 million monthly active users. However, worldwide traffic to ChatGPT’s website has been on a roller-coaster ride in the past year and is only now returning to its May 2023 peak, according to analytics firm Similarweb.

Giving ChatGPT the search engine-like capability of accessing and linking to up-to-date, accurate Web information is an obvious next step, and one that the current iteration of ChatGPT finds challenging, industry experts have said.

OpenAI made the announcements a day before Alphabet is scheduled to hold its annual Google developers conference, where it is expected to show off its own new AI-related features.

Shares of Alphabet were down 0.3% on Monday afternoon, after falling nearly 3% earlier in the day. Microsoft shares were flat.

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