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"Alexa, when does the keynote start?" - building VUIs for events

Designing and building VUIs (Voice User Interfaces) has its challenges - especially when they are built for events. I created the concepts for the Amazon Alexa skills for the conferences re:publica and Tech Open Air and give an overview over the pros and cons of VUIs in general, the concept process of the event skills and decisions on the feature set.

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"Alexa, when does the keynote start?" - building VUIs for events

  1. 1. „Alexa, when does the keynote start?“ – building VUIs for events Nelli Hergenröther
  2. 2. Agenda 1. Introduction 2. Pros & cons of Voice UIs 3. Building Voice UIs for events 4. Discussion
  3. 3. 1. Introduction
  4. 4. Who am I? • Nelli Hergenröther, MD of Evenly, a software consultancy in Berlin-Kreuzberg • Focus on mobile, TV, voice software and wearables • Background in project and product management • & @no_vem_ber
  5. 5. What’s this all about? • We built an Amazon Alexa skill for the conferences re:publica and the Tech Open Air • I created the concept and decided on the feature scope for the first version together with developers • Voice UIs for live events have their own specific challenges
  6. 6. 2. Pros & cons of Voice UIs
  7. 7. Pros of Voice UIs • Speed • Intuitiveness • Freedom for multitasking • Empathy
  8. 8. Cons of Voice UIs • Inconvenience through noise • Privacy concerns • Communication habits • Complex data entry • A computer is not a human
  9. 9. 3. Building Voice UIs for events
  10. 10. Amazon Alexa conference skill A conference skill is a great use case for a Voice UI: • Stationary device • No privacy sensitive information • Use case: Getting, not giving infos • Short infos (locations, dates etc.) needed • Play audio while doing something else
  11. 11. User stories
  12. 12. The three states Before conference • Infos about conference and session dates, location • No recordings or live sessions yet During conference • Dates and times of sessions • Live session streams • Already a few recordings available After conference • Infos about location or session dates are not relevant anymore • Recordings are available
  13. 13. Listen to a recorded session
  14. 14. Mapping dialogs
  15. 15. Confirmation strategies User needs to know that • Task was successful • Correct task will be done To consider • Cost of getting it wrong • Available modalities for feedback Confirmation method
  16. 16. Explicit and implicit confirmation • Explicit confirmation Forces the user to confirm the information. For example, “I think you want to play the live stream of session X. Is that correct?” • Implicit confirmation
 Lets the user know what was understood, but do not ask them to confirm. For example, “Playing live stream of session X". (In this case user should have possibility to cancel or go back a step)
  17. 17. Error handling Intent not understood • „I couldn’t understand you“ • User can try again (implied) Information not found • „I couldn’t find session X“ • Info is missing or intent was not understood correctly • User can try again (implied) Wrong information found • Plays session by Anna instead on Hannah • Implicit confirmation - user notices and can cancel
  18. 18. Languages are hard…
  19. 19. Language Handling
  20. 20. Apps Localization & Review Process One app, localized in multiple languages = one review process Voice Skills Every language of the skill is handled as an independent skill in review process
  21. 21. Selecting the feature scope • We focused on a very limited feature set for MVP • More features (user requested) to be added later • Feature scope limited by available data • Possible new features: • Add favorites • Recommendations • Reminders (Reminders API) • Notifications (ProactiveEvents API)
  22. 22. Summing up VUIs for events • Event skill is great use case for VUI: stationary device, no privacy sensitive information, short infos, getting, not giving input, can be used as background audio • Keep in mind the 3 states: before, during and after conference • Make skill relevant for users in all 3 states • Work with user stories and move on to mapping dialogs • Use implicit confirmation for most features (cost of failing is not very high) • In case of error: prompt user to try again • Languages are hard, especially when spoken, plan time for it
  23. 23. Let’s ask Alexa!
  24. 24. Try them out!
  25. 25. More infos and reading • Create and publish your own skills with templates: https:// — • Cathy Pearl: Designing Voice User Interfaces: Principles of Conversational Experiences • Clifford Nass: Wired for Speech: How Voice Activates and Advances the Human-Computer Relationship • James P. Giangola, Jennifer Balogh: Voice User Interface Design
  26. 26. 4. Discussion
  27. 27. Let’s discuss! • Do you have experiences with designing/building Voice UIs? • What were the challenges? • What solutions did you choose? • What would be other great use cases for Voice UIs? • What could be interesting features?
  28. 28. Thank you for listening!