How to build the future of voice?
The Future is Spoken presents Jeff Blankenburg as this week's guest. Jeff spent the early part of his career in digital advertising, building websites for Victoria's Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Ford Motor Company, among others.
He also spent eight years at Microsoft, primarily as an evangelist for any new technology he could get his hands on. Today, he works on the Amazon Alexa team helping developers make Alexa even smarter. Jeff has also spoken at conferences worldwide, including London, Munich, Sydney, Tokyo, and New York, covering topics ranging from software development technologies to soft skill techniques.
Starting with their own experiences, they end up answering questions like "How to build the future of voice?"
Tune in now to find your answers!
[00:23] From phycology to Alexa Evangelist
● Jeff explains how he got out of school, actually with a degree in psychology. He thought that was the path he would go down before he realized software was where he wanted to be.
● He also speaks about the idea of a voice-enabled assistant he had come up at Microsoft. And when he saw the actual product at Amazon, it was like a fascination to him.
[03:23] Ambient computing is the future!
● We can see his fascination with ambient computing from his virtues.
● They discuss how computing power can help us to do everything right.
[06:08] Should Voice enable more people?
● Jeff stresses on how technology can help disabled people to live a better life.
[08:38] What is the 'One breath test'?
● He also touches on some of the limitations of voice assistants and how they can solve many problems by summarizing the content.
[12:03] How about Contextual Designing?
● Jeff thinks that instead of developing something new and trying to make it work, one needs to take a step back. One needs to say the paths that he expects his user to carry through this experience and make sure that they have those in an excellent, structured way.
● Conversational design is a great way to think about this. What are the main things that your users are going to do? This lets you define the core experiences pretty quickly.
[14:24] Ensuring everything has been tested out!
[16:49] Beta testing is the key to the future of Voice.
● By defining a starting position and an outcome, and then validating that against your skill is a valuable tool in being able to set these tests as part of your user design.
● Jeff touches on how these tests are crucial to determine what the final product will look like?
[18:39] Localizing Alexa?
● Jeff says that to localize Alexa, they need someone fluent in that local language. So, they are solving this problem in a couple of different ways.
● He also explains an intriguing way of being unique that forces the users to listen.
[22:56] Where is the gap?
[27:23] Can Conversation Designing become a modem through which people could enable discoverability?
[28:31] Dealing with the unexpected…..
● Jeff stresses on how Alexa is designed to deal with unexpected things. Being one of them is to rely on the built-in dialogue management to solve some of these problems.
[31:56] How Alexa adapts to different scenarios?
● He tells that it is challenging for the first time. But after gathering some context, Alexa is ready to Rock!
● He also talks about the real-world scenario that affects the functioning of Alexa and how they have developed more of a natural solution.
[41:01] Can testing narrow the gaps?
[44:59] The need for analytics
● Finally, Jeff shares that Amazon is a data-driven company and the analytics are the heart and soul of everything they do. But we can't use analytics to drive an initial launch. Designers and developers must have some good vision about what their customers want and how it works. Once the voice application is launched, there is so much to be learned there because you will have ideas about the areas of your skill or your application that you want to expand on.
[47:42] "Getting people to discover new skills is hard!"
[48:20] Why is it important to have variations?
[51:34] An advice for you!
"Computer being around, but not being in front of you is Ambient Computing."
"We are very transactional when it comes to conversations with voice assistants."
"When people don't hear the same thing every single time, they tend to pay more attention."
"If it's predictable, it's boring!"
Connect with Jeff
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Follow Shyamala Prayaga at @sprayaga