On Thursday, Amazon announced new capabilities for Alexa to automatically differentiate between the voices of different users, and better customize their experience with the assistant.
Singular interactions for all users can feel robotic and sterile, according to an Alexa blog post. Individualizing the customer experience through personalization allows users to better engage with Alexa, and more quickly dive into the tasks they want the assistant to complete.
Developers can build in personalized voice interactions, starting with greeting users with different welcomes each time (for example, instead of "Hello," Alexa can say "Howdy" or "Happy Friday" the post noted).
SEE: IT leader's guide to the future of artificial intelligence (Tech Pro Research)
More sophisticated voice interactions will involve Alexa remembering your past interactions, the post said.
"At first, users need help understanding the scope of the experience that you offer and what they can do. So, the first experience might be more verbose," according to the post. "Over time, users will want to get right into the action; they won't want to hear the long introduction every time they visit, and your welcome message should evolve to match expectations."
Giving Alexa memory would let users pick tasks up where they left off, and would allow the assistant to get to know their needs better over time. For example, Alexa might greet a user with something like, "Welcome back, Peter. Last time you were here, you were on question 12 of your GMAT prep. Would you like to continue or start over?" This could be especially helpful for professionals working in an office environment or telecommuting, who want to use Alexa for productivity.
The relationship mirrors how people get to know each other over time, and how conversations advance to match that, the post noted.
"While we prefer consistent graphical UIs, we have low tolerance for repeat voice interactions," the post said. "Therefore, it is appropriate to remain predictable and concise yet also surprising and delightful when designing voice-first UIs."
Users can set up Alexa voice profiles with these instructions from our sister site CNET.
Voice is "the UI of the future," according to Amazon. The news follows the release of an Amazon developer preview that allows them to use eight Amazon Polly US English voices for their Alexa skills for free, to make the skills more engaging.
Creating engaging skills can pay off: Developers can make money through Alexa skills using in-skill purchasing or Amazon Pay for Alexa Skills, the post noted. Skills that drive high customer engagement can also lead to a payday for developers through Alexa Developer Rewards.
The big takeaways for tech leaders:
- Amazon announced new capabilities for Alexa to automatically differentiate between the voices of different users, and better customize their experience with the assistant.
- Alexa will remember past interactions with each user, allowing users to pick tasks up where they left off.
- How we learned to talk to computers, and how they learned to answer back (cover story PDF) (TechRepublic)
- Amazon Echo: 10 Alexa productivity skills to try (ZDNet)
- Alexa Skills: Cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Alexa for Business: 10 key takeaways (ZDNet)
- Top 5: Ways Alexa can help you get work done (TechRepublic)
Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.