A layperson’s exploration of all things voice

Monthly Archives: November 2019

November 25, 2019

WalMart Uses Siri for Grocery Shopping

Here’s the intro from this WalMart press release:

Earlier this year we announced a new way to make Online Grocery shopping even easier for customers – Walmart Voice Order – a service that gives customers the option to add items to their Walmart Online Grocery Cart by simply saying the words.

Today, we’re proud to announce that partnering with Apple, we’ve made Walmart Voice Order available on Siri. We are always looking for new ways to bring our customers the best experiences when buying Apple products from Walmart and when using their Apple devices every day.

We are introducing a new Siri Shortcut for Online Grocery. Customers simply ask Siri to start adding items directly to their Walmart Online Grocery cart after they’ve paired their accounts. It feels a little like magic on an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, HomePod or in the car with CarPlay.

Customers build out their basket by just saying “Add to Walmart” and then naming the product they want to add to their cart. After that, customers can place their order and Walmart personal shoppers get to work gathering the items for the customer, who can pick the order up on the way home or have it delivered right to their door.

November 21, 2019

How Skills Can Complement Educational Offerings

Here’s a note from the RAIN agency about this ‘voicebot.ai’ article:

Coursera has launched a new Alexa skill which will function as a companion to students who are utilizing their educational platform. According to Voicebot AI, “Once the skill is installed and linked, students can ask Alexa questions about ongoing assignments test scores, grades, and other information about their progress in a class.” As Amazon continues to build up their children and education offerings, the Coursera skill supports a valuable assistive use case. The skill begins to show how young students can bring Alexa into their daily routines and use the medium to help manage their schoolwork and provide on-demand information about academic performance.

Here’s an excerpt from the ‘voicebot.ai’ article:

The new skill is possible thanks to the newly created Alexa Education Skill API. While the API is still only in preview, Coursera and other companies in the digital education industry are starting to test many of its features. While Coursera’s is focused on students checking on assignments, education tech companies Blackboard and Canvas have launched skills for both students and parents to get updates on school assignments. Meanwhile, Kickboard and ParentSquare are using the new API as a way for schools to communicate with parents about the latest news and even behavioral reports on their children.

November 19, 2019

Using Storyboards to Design Your Skill

This video by Amazon’s Paul Cutsinger is incredibly useful to understand how to best design your skill. At the 23:00 mark, Paul starts to explain how to use storyboards & cards to create your skill plan.

November 17, 2019

“Jurassic World Revealed” Game: Selling Premium Content

Two summers ago, as noted in this article, Universal released a new “Jurassic Park” movie – and as a tie-in, it released a related audio adventure called “Jurassic World Revealed.” This audio game included “premium” chapters that folks could pay for after they heard the first chapter for free.

There are five premium chapters at a cost of $5 each – meaning that you would wind up spending twice the amount for a movie ticket if you got hooked on the audio game and listened to all of the premium chapters.

I didn’t spend the money to listen to the premium content (and based on the comments for the game, people enjoyed it but were mad they paid money), it’s a role-playing game where you choose your role and then you are asked questions. The story proceeds based on how you answer the questions.

Universal used voice actors – so I’m sure it cost them a pretty penny to put this together – but I doubt many folks paid for the premium content. But I guess we’ll find out if we see other movie studios following their lead…

November 6, 2019

Want to Limit Your Screen Time? Look to Voice

Way back when our kids were young, we had a policy of limiting our kids to a half hour of screen time per day. That probably wouldn’t be doable in this era – but back then, most kids didn’t get a mobile phone until they were in high school. Now, nearly all of us could use some kind of hard cap on our screen time.

Enter “Voice.” This article links to an interview with Daniel Rausch who helps run Amazon’s Smart Home unit – here’s an excerpt from the article:

The comments come off the back of the launch of a number of new devices from the company that allow people to stay even more connected to Alexa not only in the home, but when out and about. The company recently launched Echo Buds, a pair of wireless in-ear headphones to compete against the Apple AirPods amongst others, as well as a pair of connected glasses and even a smart ring you can wear on your finger. “You might be wearing the Echo Buds, or one of our Day One Edition frames and these keep you fundamentally connected to the world around you using AI,” adds Rausch.

The reason for the upbeat attitude even those Amazon’s previous efforts to take on the phone industry dramatically failed back in 2014? Because Rausch believes by using our phones, we become disconnected, not more connected with the world around us. “I don’t know about you, but I fundamentally disconnect from the world around me when I pull out my phone. I love my phone, I accomplish lots of things with my phone, but it also disconnects me. The more we [Amazon] can offer through that ambient interface that is with you on the go, the better off our customers will be.”

The key message from Rausch it seems, is that Amazon wants to be part of every element of your world, but not your whole world.

November 4, 2019

How to Create a Brand “Voice”

I’ve been blogging a lot about this free 48-page playbook by “360i” about what you should know about voice from a marketing perspective. Today I focus on its chapter about how to create a brand “voice” (starts on page 54). It’s about considering the tone of your brand’s voice on voice assistants – the use of voice “standards” and more. Here’s an excerpt:

A successfully consistent tone of voice employs specific tone standards that mimic the way you sound when you speak and are in line with your personality. A set of tone standards allows you to sound consistently like yourself, while giving you the flexibility to adapt to various situations. Take Oprah for example – maybe her tone standards are earnest, boisterous, and empathetic. These are the underlying spaces she plays in, dialing up and down different ones for different situations.

If she’s giving away a car, it’s in a boisterous voice with a touch of empathy. If she’s interviewing the first lady, it’s earnest and boisterous in light-hearted moments. Donating a school to an underprivileged community? She has an empathetic voice with a hint of an earnest tone for that too.