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What’s in your voice technology belt? - Issue #39

This week issue includes the influence of voice technology on whiskey shopping and older adults, and
What’s in your voice technology belt? - Issue #39
By Mari from VoiceFirst Weekly • Issue #39 • View online
This week issue includes the influence of voice technology on whiskey shopping and older adults, and how much AI you need to build effective conversations. Plus why Alexa-hosted skills is a big deal.
What’s in your voice technology toolset, the bookmarks you can not leave without, the must-have tools? Tweet me your responses. Some of the resources of this issue are keepers.
As always, much ❤️.

Alexa Hosted Skills (Beta) is Now Available to All Developers
With an Alexa-hosted skill, you can build, edit, and publish a skill without leaving the Alexa Developer Console. This allows you to build skills quickly and spend your time designing engaging experiences, rather than managing cloud services. Alexa-hosted skills are available to developers in all Alexa locales but you will only be able to create and edit hosted skills through the console during the beta period.
This is very relevant to Alexa skill builders. Alexa-hosted skills facilitate the creation process, allowing creators to focus on what matters the most: the experience. However, you shouldn’t neglect the resources your applications use, not even voice applications. Ideal for crafting experiences, MVP and testing.
As a general note, you can not underestimate the work Amazon does to improve the development experience on skills creation. And that will pay off for them.
Alexa for the Elderly - How Voice User Interfaces Can Improve the Lives of Older Adults Living Alone
I believe this is one of those opportunities to do socially meaningful work and good business at the same time. Hopefully, we all agree about the relevance of helping our elders in living better lives. We have the technology today to design delightful voice experiences for millions of older adults in their homes.
Interesting read on older adults and digital assistants technology.
Voice activated whiskey assistant
Global marketing company The Mars Agency has partnered with US drinks retailer BevMo! to trial a voice-activated, digital whiskey shopping assistant.
The Mars Agency’s Smart Aisle platform has been created to assist shoppers with product selection, and offer information and educational tools at the point of purchase. The platform combines a voice-activated interface, artificial intelligence and LED shelf lights.
Smart Aisle will ask shoppers questions about their whiskey preferences and then filter the assortment down to three recommended bottles, reading out names and descriptions. Shelf lights highlight the locations of the recommended bottles.
The platform will be tested at BevMo! stores in California in Oakland, San Jose, Santa Clara, Mira Mesa and Carmel Mountain until the end of March.
How much AI do you need to build an effective conversation between a human and a computer?
A prevailing misconception is that the effectiveness of human-computer conversation depends on AI automation alone. Quite the contrary, humans are essential in building effective conversations.
Development techniques for digital assistants today, note the distinction they make throughout the text with ‘digital assistant’ and not ‘smart assistant’. The biggest takeaways that I want to leave you with is summed at the end of the article:
Regardless, building effective conversations between digital assistants and end users is increasingly more of a design problem than a technical problem.
Battle of the voices
First of all, before commenting this, don’t you think that is a great name: battle of the voices? Anyways Raconteur did this pretty neat infographic on the battle of the voices. Includes data for voice enabled speaker market where Amazon dominates -cashing in the first mover advantage- but Google is closing in; how different owners use their devices (with listening to music as the most common one), location of smart speakers in the house and predictions on devices sales. Is a nice one to keep in your voice tech knowledge belt.
Resources
VoiceBrew
I met Katherine at the Alexa Conference. She just launched VoiceBrew and I felt that is perfect for this newsletter: showcasing new ideas that might not be represented in other publications dedicated to voice is one of our goals. Here’s her summary of what they do:
VoiceBrew is a consumer-facing website and weekly email that helps people get the most out of Alexa. VoiceBrew is brand new and launched on January 1, 2019. They recently published the VoiceBrew 22 with the 22 best uses for Alexa right now including pro tips like setting up location-based reminders, playing Spotify playlists, creating routines and more.
Make money with Alexa skills
This is latest guide released by Amazon on how to make the monies. Monetization is a hot topic in smart assistants and conversational technologies and many are trying to crack the code of building products ($) for the latest in digital assistants. This link will get you to the page where you can get the full guide. I particularly talked to several folks at the Alexa Conference that are using a combination of physical and digital payments or a combination of physical and skills services. After all, smart assistants are supposed to enhance and help with our activities.
The Best Voice First Events to Look Forward to in 2019
The conference cycle for voice tech is only getting started. Bespoken published a list of the ones to look forward to in 2019.
Common messages in voice apps
Dashbot released the most common messages in voice apps based on data from Google Actions. Another one to bookmark and add to your toolset. Very useful when designing voice applications.
In your ear
This is what I’m listening or have pending to listen because it interest me or was recommended. Thought it might interest you as well.
Quote of the week
Conversational AI is the biggest technological shift since the smartphone.
James Vlahos
Did you enjoy this issue?
Mari from VoiceFirst Weekly

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