This Forbes article is about artificial intelligence, not voice – but I found it compelling. And a little bit scary. Anytime I read about how you can so easily manipulate the content in videos – the “deep fake” – it frightens me. Although I guess that should be the least of my worries these days. Here’s the ending from the piece:
These examples show that artificial intelligence, when used creatively, can do more than the grunt work. It is a way to build relationships with customers on a personal level while at the same time scaling at large in a cost-effective way. It’s important to go beyond equating AI to only chatbots and have conversations around how AI can actually work in service of brands and, in turn, be used to better their customer’s experience.
We should continue to have meaningful discussions around deepfakes and setting up safeguards and ethics around synthetic media. But, we must also move the conversation beyond just focusing on that element of synthetic media. It’s also time for brands and businesses to better understand the broader trends that are on the horizon, so they are prepared for the future of marketing to come.
This Voicebot.ai podcast provides ten short interviews from the CES conference. At the 4:28 mark, Bret Kinsella talks to Audioburst’s Gal Klein. Audioburst helps with the discovery problem inherent in audio by extracting the relevant bits from podcasts and talk radio in response to what you’re looking for. This TechCrunch article helps to explain how that works (as well as Bret’s interview with Gal).
In this podcast, Voicebot.ai’s Bret Kinsella talks with NFL Labs’ Ian Campbell and Bondad.fm’s John Gillilan about how the NFL has embraced voice. The topics included:
– Goal is engaging with fans on multiple channels since fan expectations are higher nowadays as many are tech savvy.
– The NFL’s partners also expect more and the benefit to the NFL is additional product integration opportunities.
– Started with a lot of small prototypes in voice. Started with an Alexa Skill (‘Rookie’s Guide to the NFL’) last offseason. The skill teaches new fans the rules, including an international audience (games now played in London and Mexico City). Most of their voice endeavors so far have been on Alexa, but they do have some content on the Google Assistant too.
– You need to rethink your content for a voice platform. Can’t write for voice in a vacuum, you need to hear how it sounds – so how you spell things matters as its part of your personality, what type of music behind the voice matters, etc. So it’s more than just scripting.
– Voice brings a lot of truths to your content. For example, for the ‘Rookie’s Guide” skill, they had to consider how to explain the jargon and commentary that accompanies the rules. There is a unique language & nomenclature exists for every industry.
– So far, the NFL has done four types of Flash Briefings: Definitions, News, Editorials, Quizzes, Games & Storytelling.
– Used both synthetic Polly voice (the one offered by Amazon called “Matthew”) and a real player (Maurice Jones-Drew) and a sportscaster (Cole Wright). They are looking at VocalID’s service too. They have tried proto personas to see what works – and if it works, they build on that.
– They tried an avatar of ‘Football Frank,’ which used the Polly voice of Matthew.
– They spend a lot of time trying to help fans get back on track if they make a request that “fails” – they do that with some humor to lessen the blow of a failure.
– They have a multimodal project that is just internal now. They use a ‘hear, see, do’ principle to try to adjust to the differences from voice-only to a screen addition.
The past few days I’ve been blogging about this podcast, in which Voicebot.ai’s Bret Kinsella talks with John Kelvie from Bespoken about how “domains” will replace voice apps. I wanted to offer one last excerpt from John’s blog, pulled from the bottom about how companies that are building their own voice assistants might be better served doing something else:
The devices in column one are inevitable and in some cases are already essential. Column two? Many may seem silly but some nonetheless will prove indispensable.
And these are JUST the devices with voice-capabilities embedded – the march of voice continues to be the march of IoT. Voice is our point of control for the ubiquitous computing power that exists around us. If you imagine a world in which the average cell phone owner has just ONE of each of the above items, the coming wave of voice-enabled devices looks like a tsunami. And if you factor in the devices under their control (thermostats, lights, power switches, appliances, etc.), it becomes even more staggering.
And the very good news is third parties have a huge role to play – the big guys need to provide the platforms and the device access, but they cannot do all the fulfillment. The future of the ecosystem is everyone playing nicely together in this new query-centric, domain-centric world, in which first and third-parties work together seamlessly.
For the platforms, it’s the chance to employ, at massive scale, the wisdom of the crowd – the wisdom of every brand, app builder, API and website on earth. What an amazing achievement it will be.
For third parties, it’s the opportunity to meet users, wherever they are, whatever they are doing – properly done, they will be just a short trip of the tongue away.
This VoiceFirst.fm podcast hosted by Bradley Metrock with three evangelists from Samsung’s Bixby explores where Bixby is headed. Here are a few nuggets:
1. The ability of Samsung televisions (and other Samsung appliances) to offer voice assistant help can be a differentor down the road. For example, you’re watching a football game and a “clipping” penalty is called. You can ask the TV to explain what “clipping” is – and a graphic will pop up with the explanation.
2. Amazon struggles with discoverability issues since more than 100k skills are now in the library. Google’s challenge is that it only allows a limited number of third-parties to make Actions for its library. For Samsung, you can make a capsule and it will stand out since you’ll be a first-mover since Bixby is relatively new. Like Amazon, Samsung encourages third-parties to contribute capsules.
[For those new to voice, Amazon uses the term “Skill”; Google uses “Action”; and Samsung uses “Capsule” as their way of identifying the same thing – essentially an “app” but these things are played from a voice assistant rather than a mobile phone.]
3. When it comes to privacy, Bixby has the functionality for you to go back and delete any (or all) of your “utterances.” Meaning you can delete anything you asked Bixby to do.
I’m old enough to be permanently burned out about anything related to the Super Bowl. But I did watch it this year – and I saw how voice was featured in more than one ad. Here’s a summary from the “Rain” agency:
Two days out from the Super Bowl, we are at a good distance to analyze voice’s presence during marketing’s biggest night. In our 2020 predictions piece, our first prognostication was that voice would play a large role in cultural moments starting with the Super Bowl. Reviewing the slate of multi-million dollar ads, we see Amazon wanting Alexa to be seen as an everyday utility, Google tugging on heartstrings by highlighting its Assistant “remember” feature (both ads can be seen here), Snickers poking fun at smart speakers’ perceived contribution to the surveillance state and Coca-Cola using voice as a sampling channel for new products.
Although we have yet to see voice-specific CTAs or real-time giveaways take center stage at the Super Bowl, the presence of voice assistants during the big game’s commercials show how ingrained in culture they have become.
In this podcast, Voicebot.ai’s Bret Kinsella talks with Jeff McMahon, Voicify’s CEO about how voice – and chat bots – can be used by enterprise marketers. Here are some of the points made:
1. Try to think of voice as a way to unlock existing content. Companies tend to have a lot of content buried deep on their sites that aren’t discovered much. Or maybe even not that deep but tend to be the kind of companies whose sites aren’t visited (eg. utilities & customers researching their usage).
2. We all will soon enough be digging into dynamic content more easily because voice is so frictionless. For example, the ability to easily access your own healthcare records.
3. At the 24-minute mark of the podcast, there is a discussion about leveraging your existing CMS, as content is more easily discoverable.
4. At the 32-minute mark of the podcast, there is a discussion about how commerce will soon be flourishing by voice – this year. Jeff gave some examples and noted how stored credit cards are now easily accessed by voice, which solves the problem of how to pay. Both Amazon Pay & Google Pay now permit third-parties to make transactions using their services – this is a game-changer. At the 51-minute mark, Jeff delves deeper into examples of what companies are doing now.
5. Jeff predicted an eventual boom in the use of voice for commerce, similar to how it has evolved for the Web (lots of doubters at first, then some slow movement – and then eventually more than most would have thought possible). Some although some companies might start with voice for engagement purposes, they eventually will likely migrate to voice commerce too.
6. Jeff noted how many of us want human-like interactions, but not with an actual human. Ain’t that the truth!
This Voicebot.ai podcast provides ten short interviews from the CES conference. CES offered a “voice” track for the first time – and Voicebot’s Bret Kinsella noted that voice was expected to be integrated with technology this time around, a development from it just being a novelty.
At the 11:50 mark, Bret talks to Audiobrain’s Audrey Arbeeney. Audrey’s company provides assistance to those companies who are adding sounds as part of their branding – sort of the analogue to logos from a visual standpoint. It’s an art & science that goes beyond playing simple sounds to identify your brand. She notes she’s on a panel with someone at Whirlpool – and how Whirlpool uses different sounds in their washing machines that are emotive & experiential.
There are sonic branding guidelines to consider, which for some companies will be on a global basis – particularly because you want the brand to be consistent. Here are other examples of what Audiobrain has done for clients. Fascinating stuff!
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.
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…