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Alexa Blogs Alexa Developer Blogs /blogs/alexa/feed/entries/atom 2019-03-20T13:02:06+00:00 Apache Roller /blogs/alexa/post/d6e559c4-ac00-45a1-97ee-fde845e99202/machine-labeled-data-artificial-noise-better-speech-recognition Machine-Labeled Data + Artificial Noise = Better Speech Recognition Larry Hardesty 2019-03-20T13:00:00+00:00 2019-03-20T13:02:06+00:00 <p>Using one neural network to label speech data, adding synthetic environmental noise to that data, and then using it to train a second neural network improves speech recognition, particularly under noisy conditions.</p> <p>Although deep neural networks have enabled accurate large-vocabulary speech recognition, training them requires thousands of hours of transcribed data, which is time-consuming and expensive to collect. So Amazon scientists have been <a href="https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/how-alexa-learns/" target="_blank">investigating</a> techniques that will let Alexa learn with minimal human involvement, techniques that fall in the categories of unsupervised and semi-supervised learning.</p> <p>At this year’s International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing, my colleagues and I are <a href="https://arxiv.org/pdf/1901.02348.pdf" target="_blank">presenting</a> a semi-supervised-learning approach to improving speech recognition performance — especially in noisy environments, where existing systems can still struggle.</p> <p>We first train a speech recognizer — the “teacher” model — on 800 hours of annotated data and use it to “softly” label another 7,200 hours of unannotated data. Then we artificially add noise to the same dataset and use that, together with the labels generated by the teacher model, to train a second speech recognizer — the “student” model. We hope to make the behavior of the student model in the noisy domain approach that of the teacher model in the clean domain, and thus improve the noise robustness of the speech recognition system.</p> <p><img alt="T-S_architecture.jpg" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/default/T-S_architecture.jpg._CB467865187_.jpg?t=true" style="display:block; height:463px; margin-left:auto; margin-right:auto; width:400px" /></p> <p style="text-align:center"><sup><em>The architecture of our teacher-student model. &quot;Logits selection&quot; refers to the selection of high-confidence senones.</em></sup></p> <p>On test data that we produced by simultaneously playing recorded speech and media sounds through loudspeakers and re-recording the combined acoustic signal, our system shows a 20% relative reduction in terms of word error rate versus a system trained only on the clean, annotated data.</p> <p>An automatic speech recognition system has three main components: an acoustic model, a pronunciation model, and a language model. The inputs to the acoustic model are short snippets of audio called frames. For every input frame, the output is thousands of probabilities. Each probability indicates the likelihood that the frame belongs to a low-level phonetic representation called a senone.</p> <p>In training the student model, we keep only the highest-confidence senones from the teacher, which turns out to be a quite effective approach.</p> <p>The outputs of the acoustic model pass to the pronunciation model, which converts senone sequences into possible words, and those pass to the language model, which encodes the probabilities of word sequences. All three components of the system work together to find the most likely word sequence given the audio input.</p> <p>Both our teacher and student models are acoustic models, and we experiment with two criteria for optimizing them. With the first, the models are optimized to maximize accuracy on a frame-by-frame basis, at the level of the acoustic model. The other training criterion is sequence-discriminative: both the teacher and student models are further optimized to minimize error across sequences of outputs, at the levels of not only the acoustic model but the pronunciation model and language model as well.</p> <p>We find that sequence training makes the teacher models more accurate, apart from the performance of the student models. It also slightly increases the relative improvement offered by the student models.</p> <p>To add noise to the training data, we used a collection of noise samples, most of which involved media playback — such as music or television audio — in the background. For each speech example in the training set, we randomly selected one to three noise samples to add to it. Those samples were processed to simulate closed-room acoustics, with the properties of the simulated room varying randomly from one training example to the next.</p> <p>For every frame of audio data that passes to an acoustic model, most of the output probabilities are extremely low. So when we use the teacher’s output to train the student, we keep only the highest probabilities. We experimented with different numbers of target probabilities, from five to 40.</p> <p>Intriguingly, this modification by itself improved the performance of the student model relative to the teacher, even on clean test data. Training the student to ignore improbable hypotheses enabled it to devote more resources to distinguishing among probable ones.</p> <p>In addition to limiting the number of target probabilities, we also applied a smoothing function to them, which evened them out somewhat, boosting the lows and trimming the highs. The degree of smoothing is defined by a quantity called temperature. We found that a temperature of 2, together with keeping the 20 top probabilities, yielded the best results.</p> <p>Apart from the data set produced by re-recording overlapping audio, we used two other data sets to test our system. One was a set of clean audio samples, and the other was a set of samples to which we’d added noise through the same procedure we used to create the training data.</p> <p>Our best-performing student model was first optimized according to the per-frame output from the teacher model, using the entire 8,000 hours of data with noise added, then sequence-trained on the 800 hours of annotated data. Relative to a teacher model sequence-trained on 800 hours of hand-labeled clean data, it yielded a 10% decrease in error rate on the clean test data, a 29% decrease on the noisy test data, and a 20% decrease on the re-recorded noisy data.</p> <p><em>Minhua Wu is an applied scientist in the Alexa Speech group.</em></p> <p><a href="https://arxiv.org/pdf/1901.02348.pdf" target="_blank"><strong>Paper</strong></a>: “Improving Noise Robustness of Automatic Speech Recognition via Parallel Data and Teacher-Student Learning”</p> <p><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa/science" target="_blank"><strong>Alexa science</strong></a></p> <p><strong>Acknowledgments</strong>:&nbsp;Ladislav Mosner, Anirudh Raju, Sree Hari Krishnan Parthasarathi, Kenichi Kumatani, Shiva Sundaram, Roland Maas, Bj&ouml;rn Hoffmeister</p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/f2c93a90-5539-4386-aefb-2342f9b1cc4c/new-approach-to-language-modeling-reduces-speech-recognition-errors-by-up-to-15" target="_blank">New Approach to Language Modeling Reduces Speech Recognition Errors by Up to 15%</a></li> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/8a7980f4-340c-4275-9575-509255617b04/how-alexa-is-learning-to-ignore-tv-radio-and-other-media-players" target="_blank">How Alexa Is Learning to Ignore TV, Radio, and Other Media Players</a></li> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/ab5bd7dd-ffa4-4607-b5b9-3c87f2bca5d1/contextual-clues-can-help-improve-alexa-s-speech-recognizers" target="_blank">Contextual Clues Can Help Improve Alexa’s Speech Recognizers</a></li> <li><a href="https://amazon.jobs/en/landing_pages/icassp" target="_blank">Amazon at ICASSP</a><br /> &nbsp;</li> </ul> /blogs/alexa/post/c84cba57-ec91-4f24-a572-821e843a3811/gdc-2019-day-1-recap-how-to-give-your-game-a-voice GDC 2019 Day 1 Recap: How to Give Your Game a Voice Jennifer King 2019-03-19T17:40:40+00:00 2019-03-19T17:40:40+00:00 <p>Get a recap of our GDC panel with games experts from Amazon, Earplay, and X2 Games. We discussed the future of voice games and best practices for building voice-first gaming experiences.</p> <p>It's the Alexa team’s second year attending the <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa/alexa-skills-kit/game-developer-conference">Game Developers Conference (GDC)</a>. The team is excited and eager to meet with our fellow gamers to discuss the <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/d015fcc0-d6c3-40d9-bd1a-f3d2a2508a7a/why-voice-games-are-part-of-the-future-of-gaming">future of games and development</a>. We bring with us new features, development environments, and Alexa skills to inspire and educate the GDC audience about voice-first games.</p> <p>Voice fits into the gaming industry in many facets. It is both the oldest and newest form of gaming. Whether you are yelling at your screen in excitement, or talking to your fellow players over chat, your voice plays a role in your gameplay more than you may think. While communication with a game has existed since the beginning, we are still exploring what it means to create innovative voice gaming experiences.</p> <p>Yesterday at GDC, we participated in Amazon Developer Day by hosting a session on how developers can leverage the Alexa Skills Kit to <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit/gaming">give their games a voice</a>. I had the opportunity to present with Alexa gaming leaders Paul Larpenteur and Chris Morrow, <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/294825b1-47bb-4f2d-943e-1b6217d94c3b/alexa-pioneers-with-voice-jon-myers-has-found-a-much-bigger-audience-than-ever-thought-possible">Earplay CEO Jon Myers</a>, and X2 Games Co-Founder Zai Ortiz on the future of voice games. We also discussed some best practices for building voice gaming experiences, drawing from successful game skills like <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Audible-Choose-Your-Own-Adventure/dp/B07N6R87RH" target="_blank">Choose Your Own Adventure</a>, voice-enabled board games, and interactive stories from <a href="https://www.earplay.com/" target="_blank">Earplay</a>. Here are some of the biggest takeaways.</p> <h2>Think About What Your Customers Want to Hear</h2> <p>Larpenteur shared customer feedback from two voice games, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Musicplode-Media-Ltd-Beat-Intro/dp/B07G4LSLBL" target="_blank">Beat the Intro</a> and Choose your Own Adventure. The key takeaway from these examples was to listen to the customer (pun intended). We analyzed some positive and negative reviews, and learned how to adjust the skill experience accordingly. For example, in Choose your Own Adventure, customers would have liked to skip over the narration of the story that they had already heard. They were saying “Skip” or “Fast forward,” which Alexa originally would not react to in the skill. The skill-building team integrated this into their interaction model, with slot confirmation, in order to appease their customers and gain a higher rating.</p> <h2>Test the Boundaries of Voice</h2> <p>Next, Ortiz shared how X2 Games created and conceptualized the new voice-enabled board game, <a href="https://www.st-noire.com/amazon-alexa" target="_blank">St.Noire</a>. With a background as a film director for movies such as Iron Man, Tron, and Mission Impossible, Ortiz has extensive experience working with extraordinary visuals. When he was introduced to voice games, he saw a major opportunity and wanted to see how far voice could go. He brought together a diverse team of people from various areas of industry, all unrelated to voice, to figure out how to translate a visually captivating experience to voice. With St.Noire, not only do you get a board game with multiple scenarios to discover, but you get a fully immersive experience that challenges you and brings the gameplay to a new dimension.</p> <h2>Don’t Be Afraid to Venture Outside the Norm</h2> <p>Finally, Morrow and Myers talked about where they see voice in the near <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/d015fcc0-d6c3-40d9-bd1a-f3d2a2508a7a/why-voice-games-are-part-of-the-future-of-gaming">future of gaming</a>. Consider how voice is already connecting players globally, or allows for continuous gaming on the go. All said, the power of voice invites players to engage more deeply with your games, whether it is standalone, companion, integrated, or something yet to be discovered. Customers have already purchased 100 million Alexa-enabled devices. Building an Alexa game skill expands your reach and enables your skill to reach millions of potential customers. Looking forward to the future, the opportunity and earning potential for voice-game developers is large and growing by the day.</p> <p>In summary, right now, there are some obvious subcategories of games with Alexa. The first are standalone voice-first games, such as <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/156b211e-355f-4bc8-b1dc-fde19d9acaad/in-skill-purchasing-takes-volley-s-thriving-voice-business-to-the-next-level" target="_blank">Yes Sire</a>, that provide a fully immersive experience with audio. The second trending category is voice-companion games that enhance your currently existing game or fandom, such as <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Activision-Publishing-Call-of-Duty%C2%AE/dp/B07C8H1VVV/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Call+of+Duty&amp;qid=1552344656&amp;s=digital-skills&amp;sr=1-1" target="_blank">Call of Duty</a> and <a href="https://www.amazon.com/The-Pokemon-Company-Pikachu-Talk/dp/B074X8X6RL/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Pikachu+Talk&amp;qid=1552357356&amp;s=digital-skills&amp;sr=1-1-catcorr" target="_blank">Pikachu Talk</a>. The final category of games is integrated games, or games that redefine the boundaries of voice and where it can go. We see this in skills that feature <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/705a0ac1-940d-4128-b35e-7085274eca6a/gadgets-skill-api-beta-is-now-available-developers-can-build-games-for-echo-buttons">Echo Buttons</a> or reconstruct traditional board game mechanics to incorporate voice. But there are many more facets of the voice-game industry that have yet to be discovered. At Alexa, we’re inspired by how the developer community is already using voice to empower their game, and excited to see where it is taking the game industry next.</p> <h2>Connect with the Alexa Team at GDC</h2> <p>We are eager to hear what the gaming community thinks about this movement with Alexa Games. There are multiple opportunities to experiment with voice technology and meet with the Alexa team during GDC. If you’re attending GDC in person, find us at the Amazon Booth in the Exhibit Hall in Moscone Center South on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Learn more about <a>Alexa and GDC here</a>.</p> <p>If you aren’t at GDC this week, or need a break from the conference hustle, join us on Twitch for our day-long livestreaming sessions during which we’ll dive into best practices and coding techniques for voice games. <a href="https://build.amazonalexadev.com/20190320_GDC_3Day_LiveStreaming-Registration.html" target="_blank">Register for the livestreams here</a>.</p> <p>Finally, we will be hosting a post-GDC workshop and hackathon in San Francisco in April! Take what you have learned from GDC and apply at the AWS Loft on April 9-10. Register for the workshop and hackathon at the links below:</p> <ul> <li>Workshop, 4/9 (5:00 pm - 8:30 pm PT): <a href="https://alexagameskillsworkshop.splashthat.com/" target="_blank">Register Now</a></li> <li>Hackathon, 4/10 (8:30 am- 7pm PT): <a href="https://alexagameskillshackathon.splashthat.com/" target="_blank">Register Now</a></li> </ul> <h2>Related Content</h2> <ul> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/d015fcc0-d6c3-40d9-bd1a-f3d2a2508a7a/why-voice-games-are-part-of-the-future-of-gaming">Why Voice Games Are Part of the Future of Gaming</a></li> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/87783263-22db-4190-a096-8916534c234c/the-vortex-an-alexa-game-skill-from-doppio-delivers-a-double-shot-of-customer-engagement-with-in-skill-purchasing">The Vortex, an Alexa Game Skill from Doppio, Delivers a Double Shot of Customer Engagement with In-Skill Purchasing</a></li> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/1200d647-8ed9-4389-b07a-1a19eb79e9ce/conversation-with-stoked-skills-gal-shenar-how-to-build-captivating-voice-first-games-for-alexa">Conversation with Stoked Skills’ Gal Shenar: How to Build Captivating Voice-First Games for Alexa</a></li> </ul> /blogs/alexa/post/87783263-22db-4190-a096-8916534c234c/the-vortex-an-alexa-game-skill-from-doppio-delivers-a-double-shot-of-customer-engagement-with-in-skill-purchasing The Vortex, an Alexa Game Skill from Doppio, Delivers a Double Shot of Customer Engagement with In-Skill Purchasing Jennifer King 2019-03-19T14:00:00+00:00 2019-03-19T14:00:00+00:00 <p><img alt="" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/default/DoppioGamesblog.png._CB469349154_.png" style="height:480px; width:1908px" /></p> <p>After working in the games industry for years, Jeferson Valadares and Chris Barnes were quick to recognize voice technology as the next major shift—and opportunity—in the world of gaming.</p> <p><img alt="" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/default/DoppioGamesblog.png._CB469349154_.png" /></p> <p>After working in the games industry for years, Jeferson Valadares and Chris Barnes were quick to recognize voice technology as the next major shift—and opportunity—in the world of gaming. Having developed games together at Electronic Arts, BioWare, and BANDAI NAMCO, in 2018 the duo launched their business <a href="https://doppio.games/" target="_blank">Doppio Games</a> and their first Alexa game skill, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Doppio-Games-The-Vortex/dp/B07JJV13G3" target="_blank">The Vortex</a>, using their extensive experience to bring engaging voice games to customers.</p> <p>“Voice is the most natural form of human interaction, so it's only natural for it to become the next evolution of games,” says Valadares. “Voice gives us the opportunity to build richer, more interesting character- and narrative-driven gaming experiences than before.”</p> <p>Encouraged by the success of other voice developers, Barnes and Valadares decided to double down and invest in building a revenue-generating voice gaming business on Alexa. To do this, Barnes and Valadares incorporated <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit/make-money/in-skill-purchasing">in-skill purchasing (ISP)</a> early in the voice design process to deepen customer engagement with The Vortex and earn the revenue they need to grow their business.</p> <p>“We designed The Vortex from the ground up with monetization in mind,” says Barnes. “We want to build a sustainable business where we have a direct relationship with our players. They love our stuff and happily pay for a premium experience.”</p> <h2>No Stranger to Shifts in Game Technology, Doppio Goes All-In on Voice</h2> <p>Barnes and Valadares have seen the game industry go through several shifts, from desktop computer games and game consoles to smartphone and tablet apps, to social media gaming, and beyond. They believe that voice is the next frontier, and presents a unique opportunity to take gaming to the next level.</p> <p>“We have been through these technological transformations in gaming, and we know how to figure out what players want in a game experience,” says Valadares. “Voice is like an open canvas we can leverage, enabling us to paint richer experiences players can enjoy.”</p> <p>The name Doppio—Italian for double espresso—exemplifies the rush gamers get from a truly engaging experience, like the one Doppio has created in The Vortex. According to the game description, the player awakens in cryogenic freeze, unable to move or see, and embarks on a mission to survive the vortex. The sci-fi game experience—equal parts storytelling, adventure, and role-playing—is perfectly suited for voice, letting players explore and complete their mission, all through the eyes and hands of the robot assistants. Although similar stories have been told using traditional game design elements in the past, the fact that in The Vortex all your interactions are done through live conversations with the characters brings a whole new emotional range to the table that wasn’t quite available in games before.</p> <p>As a voice-first game skill, The Vortex is an immersive, interactive experience. To enrich the skill even further, Barnes and Valadares used the <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/1dee3fa0-8c5f-4179-ab7a-74545ead24ce/introducing-the-alexa-presentation-language-preview">Alexa Presentation Language (APL)</a> to deliver a more visually engaging experience for Alexa-enabled devices with screens. With APL, developers can tailor the experience for different devices, from a single-player experience on Echo Spot to games that family and friends can player together on a seven-foot screen through Fire TV. And with more than 100 million Alexa-enabled devices, that means Doppio can reach even more gamers on more devices than ever before.</p> <p>“We set out to build a great voice experience,” says Barnes. “But with APL, we can reach more customers and make the experience even more engaging for players across Alexa-enabled devices with screens.”</p> <h2>In-Game Currency Becomes an Ideal Consumable In-Skill Product</h2> <p>The Doppio founders both agree that to build a base of enthusiastic players, you have to first provide a quality free gaming experience. But for any new company, every dollar counts. It was the ability to offer customers premium experiences through ISP that made Doppio’s business venture a sustainable one.</p> <p>“We didn't want to put up a pay wall with The Vortex. We wanted as many people as possible to play for free with a full gaming experience,” says Barnes. “But with the optional in-skill products, players can perform more actions faster so they can accelerate the game play if they choose to.”</p> <p>With ISP, developers can sell digital goods or services to customers within their skills, providing premium content via three types of products: one-time purchases for access to premium content over the life of the skill, subscriptions for access to premium content over a period of time, and consumables for content that is depleted upon use and can be purchased again. In The Vortex, players can purchase a consumable called multi-gel—an in-game currency that customers use to make their robots complete tasks faster. New players start with a set amount of multi-gel and are awarded additional units for returning to play again. Purchasing additional packs of multi-gel is, however, completely optional.</p> <p>“You don’t need to spend anything to play the game and enjoy it, but it’s great providing true gamers more of what they love when they want it,” says Valadares. “The day we released The Vortex, one of our players spent about $50 and finished the entire game the next day.”</p> <h2>A Great Customer Experience Leads to More Engagement</h2> <p>As creators of popular games, Barnes and Valadares have long known the value of creating a great customer experience. Barnes says a quality customer experience extends beyond the actual game play to the ISP experience as well. By following the <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/cb72c35a-4c8b-44cb-82e9-84b2198de867/checklist-ensure-your-premium-alexa-skills-are-eligible-for-amazon-promotion">guidelines and best practices for ISP</a>, Doppio provides a smooth purchasing experience for The Vortex. Following the guidelines also made the game eligible for Amazon promotion, which included being featured on the Alexa Skills Store page and emails to customers.</p> <p>“To get people to try a new game, you have to tell them about it,” says Valadares. “We’re planning social media advertising, podcasts, and other PR activities to build awareness for The Vortex. Combined with Amazon promotion, we’re able to bring an influx of new players to The Vortex—along with a corresponding increase in paying customers.”</p> <h2>With ISP Revenue Exceeding Expectations, the Future is Bright for Doppio Games</h2> <p>With a 4.1-star rating and around 400 user reviews, Barnes and Valadares know their business is on the right track.</p> <p>“We made income predictions based on our many years’ experience in game development. With ISP, we’re exceeding those expectations,” says Valadares. “The numbers are definitely encouraging, and we’re going to keep building on that success and growing our business.”</p> <p>As for the future of the voice games industry, Valadares and Barnes are excited to get in now. Valadares recalls the early days of phones and then smartphones, before anyone conceived of using them to play games. Smartphones might be the most popular gaming platform today, but voice presents great opportunity.</p> <p>“Voice is going through a similar journey as the smartphone, with most users focusing on more practical things such as smart home, weather, and traffic skills in the beginning,” says Valadares. “As voice becomes even more mainstream for games, everyone’s going to want to play. And therein lies the power and opportunity for game developers to build a real business with voice games.”</p> <h2>Related Content</h2> <ul> <li><a href="https://build.amazonalexadev.com/Voice_Gaming_Guide.html" target="_blank">Guide: How to Create Engaging Voice-First Games for Alexa</a></li> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit/make-money/in-skill-purchasing">Sell Premium Content to Enrich Your Skill Experience</a></li> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/156b211e-355f-4bc8-b1dc-fde19d9acaad/in-skill-purchasing-takes-volley-s-thriving-voice-business-to-the-next-level">In-Skill Purchasing Takes Volley’s Thriving Voice Business to the Next Level</a></li> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/7da88ba2-8091-460b-a034-a2d3257c0106/with-in-skill-purchasing-gal-shenar-sets-his-growing-voice-business-up-for-long-term-success">With In-Skill Purchasing, Gal Shenar Sets His Growing Voice Business Up for Long-Term Success</a></li> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/dd947dca-9b97-4ef8-98af-84e3ca462174/alexa-game-skill-would-you-rather-for-family-adds-in-skill-purchasing-and-sees-revenue-growth">Alexa Game Skill “Would You Rather for Family” Adds In-Skill Purchasing and Sees Revenue Growth</a></li> </ul> <h2>Make Money by Creating Engaging Voice Games Customers Love</h2> <p>With ISP, you can sell premium content to enrich your Alexa skill experience. ISP supports one-time purchases for entitlements that unlock access to features or content in your skill, subscriptions that offer access to premium features or content for a period of time, and consumables which can be purchased and depleted. You define your premium offering and price, and we handle the voice-first purchasing flow. <a href="https://build.amazonalexadev.com/alexa-skill-monetization-guide-ww.html?&amp;sc_category=Owned&amp;sc_channel=WB&amp;sc_campaign=wb_acquisition&amp;sc_publisher=ASK&amp;sc_content=Content&amp;sc_detail=vod-webinar&amp;sc_funnel=Convert&amp;sc_country=WW&amp;sc_medium=Owned_WB_wb_acquisition_ASK_Content_vod-webinar_Convert_WW_visitors_makemoney-page_CTA-graphic&amp;sc_segment=visitors&amp;sc_place=makemoney-page&amp;sc_trackingcode=CTA-graphic" target="_blank">Download our introductory guide</a> to learn more.</p> /blogs/alexa/post/a8b8b146-0e62-44da-ba8e-63b411d8f4c6/how-to-debug-errors-for-custom-alexa-skills How to Debug Errors for Custom Alexa Skills Jennifer King 2019-03-14T14:00:00+00:00 2019-03-14T14:00:00+00:00 <p>Learn how to use the SessionEndedRequest log to identify issues with your Alexa skill and correct any errors to improve the experience.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">While building an Alexa skill, you may run into issues when Alexa says, <em>“There was a problem with the requested skill’s response”</em> (for the dev version of the skill) or, <em>“Sorry, I’m having trouble accessing your skill right now”</em> (for the live version of the skill). This can happen due to a variety of reasons, including:</p> <ul> <li style="text-align:justify">Invalid SSML – A tag might be missing or not properly closed.</li> <li style="text-align:justify">Invalid audio files used – An mp3 file may be invalid. See requirements for audio files <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/speech-synthesis-markup-language-ssml-reference.html#audio">here</a>.</li> <li style="text-align:justify">Issues with assets used by the skill – Maybe the skill uses image files that are corrupt or missing.</li> </ul> <p style="text-align:justify">In such cases, when there is an error, the session is closed and the skill receives the <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/handle-requests-sent-by-alexa.html#sessionendedrequest">SessionEndedRequest</a>. Developers can use this request to log, debug, and identify the reason for the error to fix the issue. As pointed out in <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/37da1dc8-08a1-4a65-a964-762517f3ddd7/why-console-log-is-your-friend">this blog post</a>, developers can also log additional information such as the Request Id and Intent Name. You can use this information, along with the error information from the SessionEndedRequest, to identify the failing intent as well as the root cause of the failure.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The SessionEndedRequest returned in case of an error contains the error type and the error message and looks something like this:</p> <pre> <code>{ &quot;type&quot;: &quot;SessionEndedRequest&quot;, &quot;requestId&quot;: &quot;amzn1.echo-api.request.33504577-0a64-4292-b733-1f7f5ab53161&quot;, &quot;timestamp&quot;: &quot;2019-03-03T17:16:19Z&quot;, &quot;locale&quot;: &quot;en-US&quot;, &quot;reason&quot;: &quot;ERROR&quot;, &quot;error&quot;: { &quot;type&quot;: &quot;INVALID_RESPONSE&quot;, &quot;message&quot;: &quot;Invalid SSML Output Speech for requestId amzn1.echo-api.request.448ddb45-d25e-42d4-b9d0-4cbbac291c82. Error: Invalid SSML element prodody&quot; } }</code></pre> <p style="text-align:justify">In Java, you can obtain the error information from the handle method of the SessionEndedRequestHandler as shown below:</p> <pre> <code>public class SessionEndedRequestHandler implements RequestHandler { @Override public boolean canHandle(HandlerInput input) { return input.matches(requestType(SessionEndedRequest.class)); } @Override public Optional&lt;Response&gt; handle(HandlerInput input) { SessionEndedRequest request = (SessionEndedRequest) input.getRequestEnvelope().getRequest(); if(null!=request.getError()) { System.out.println(&quot;Error Message: &quot;+request.getError().getMessage()); } return input.getResponseBuilder().build(); } }</code></pre> <p style="text-align:justify">In Node, we can obtain the error information as follows:</p> <pre> <code>const SessionEndedRequestHandler = { canHandle(handlerInput) { return handlerInput.requestEnvelope.request.type === 'SessionEndedRequest'; }, handle(handlerInput) { if(null!=handlerInput.requestEnvelope.request.error) { console.log(JSON.stringify(handlerInput.requestEnvelope.request.error)); } return handlerInput.responseBuilder.getResponse(); }, };</code></pre> <p style="text-align:justify">Once we have this information logged, we can check our logs to debug and identify any issues.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">The example below shows how I can see the error information that I logged using the technique described above. In this example, I’m also logging the request ID and the intent, which is why when I lookup that request ID (which is for the error case) in Amazon CloudWatch logs for my skill, I am able to see the intent that is failing along with the reason for the failure.</p> <p style="text-align:justify"><img alt="" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/default/debugging_image.png._CB469385860_.png" style="display:block; height:208px; margin-left:auto; margin-right:auto; width:1000px" /></p> <p style="text-align:justify">Using this information in the logs, I can identify that the reason for the error (i.e. Alexa responded “There was a problem with the requested skill’s response” or “Sorry, I’m having trouble accessing your skill right now”) was that in my ‘CapitalIntent’ my SSML is malformed and I am missing the ‘&lt;/prosody&gt;’ closing tag. Thus, I can go back in my code and identify the SSML outputSpeech in my handler (CapitalIntentHandler in this case) and fix it.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Not identifying and addressing such issues with the skill may result in a poor and inconsistent customer experience, which could impact skill reviews.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">You can also use custom monitoring to identify spike in such errors. This way, you can receive an alertif there are errors being returned for a certain intent. For example, if someone accidentally uploaded an invalid mp3 file that is used in the skill’s response, this will result in errors that you’ll want to identify and address.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Developers should also include automated testing as part of their CI/CD framework so that they are able to identify issues with the skill. The <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit/smapi">Skill Management API</a> (SMAPI) also allows developers to test their live skills programmatically using the <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/smapi/skill-simulation-api.html">Simulation</a> and <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/smapi/skill-invocation-api.html">Invocation</a> APIs that help create automated tests that can identify bugs and regressions. You can perform end-to-end testing with these APIs to ensure that your skill is functioning as expected.</p> <h2 style="text-align:justify">Related Content</h2> <p style="text-align:justify">For more guidance on skill debugging and testing, check out the following resources:</p> <ul> <li style="text-align:justify"><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/37da1dc8-08a1-4a65-a964-762517f3ddd7/why-console-log-is-your-friend">Why console.log() Is Your Friend</a></li> <li style="text-align:justify"><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/8fae46e1-63a4-4f03-8a5e-383d00e465db/how-to-the-remote-endpoint-could-not-be-called">How to Handle Error Messages about Your Remote Endpoint</a></li> <li style="text-align:justify"><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/173575ce-3303-493a-a2e1-22ec81e7525d/test-your-live-alexa-skills-to-maintain-a-consistent-customer-experience-over-time">Test Your Live Alexa Skills to Maintain a Consistent Customer Experience Over Time</a></li> <li style="text-align:justify"><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/35bdad3d-57c8-4623-88c6-815540697af5/unit-testing-create-functional-alexa-skills">Unit Testing: Creating Functional Alexa Skills</a></li> <li style="text-align:justify"><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/e2f3d18c-13ca-4796-bc83-e8a196f20e57/building-engaging-alexa-skills-why-testing-and-automation-matter">Building Engaging Alexa Skills: Why Testing and Automation Matter</a></li> </ul> /blogs/alexa/post/001d4088-4d78-449a-a6b7-48d6259cea9d/so-kannst-du-erfolgreich-deinen-alexa-skill-zertifizieren-lassen So kannst du deinen Alexa Skill erfolgreich zertifizieren lassen Kristin Fritsche 2019-03-14T08:00:00+00:00 2019-03-18T08:00:40+00:00 <p>Damit du den Zertifizierungsprozess problemlos durchlaufen kannst, erkl&auml;ren wir in diesem Blogartikel den Zweck, die Anforderungen und die h&auml;ufigsten Probleme.</p> <p>Dank unserer einzigartigen Entwickler-Community umfasst der Alexa Skills Katalog aktuell mehr als 80.000 Skills weltweit. Wie du vielleicht schon wei&szlig;t, durchl&auml;uft jeder dieser Skills einen Zertifizierungsprozess, bevor er in unserem Katalog ver&ouml;ffentlicht wird. Damit du den Zertifizierungsprozess problemlos durchlaufen kannst, erkl&auml;ren wir in diesem Blogartikel den Zweck, die Anforderungen und die h&auml;ufigsten Probleme.<br /> <br /> Unsere zertifizierten Skills erf&uuml;llen die Anforderungen an Sicherheit, Zertifizierungs-Richtlinien, Funktionalit&auml;t und die korrekte Entwicklung der Sprachoberfl&auml;che. Diese Anforderungen an die Zertifizierung erm&ouml;glichen es uns Skills anzubieten, die sicher sind und gut funktionieren.<br /> <br /> Die <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/certification-requirements-for-custom-skills.html" target="_blank">Anforderungen an die Zertifizierung</a> sind in unserer technischen Dokumentation (mit einer Referenz-Checkliste) beschrieben. Wir empfehlen dir, diesen Link zu speichern und oft darauf zur&uuml;ckzugreifen, wenn du deine Skills entwickelst und dich darauf vorbereitest, sie zu ver&ouml;ffentlichen. Auf diese Weise wird sichergestellt, dass der Pr&uuml;fprozess der Zertifizierung einwandfrei abl&auml;uft und deine Skills schnell ver&ouml;ffentlicht werden.</p> <h2>So vermeidest du h&auml;ufige Fehler</h2> <p>Die meisten der zur Ver&ouml;ffentlichung eingereichten Skills werden aufgrund einfacher Fehler abgelehnt, die leicht behoben werden k&ouml;nnen. Hier sind einige Tipps und Ressourcen, um dies zu vermeiden, sodass deine Zertifizierung schnell erfolgen kann:</p> <ol> <li><strong>Sample phrases </strong>(<em>Beispiels&auml;tze</em>): Wenn du uns deinen Skill zur Ver&ouml;ffentlichung schickst, solltest du drei Beispiele angeben, die der Nutzer sehen wird, wenn er deine Skills in der Alexa-App findet. Diese Beispiele dienen als Anleitung, um mit der Nutzung des Skills loszulegen. Damit Alexa die ersten S&auml;tze des Nutzers effektiv erkennen kann, erfordert die Zertifizierung, dass diese S&auml;tze grammatikalisch korrekt und verst&auml;ndlich sind. Au&szlig;erdem sollten sie genauso formuliert werden, wie man mit Alexa spricht und so moduliert werden wie die Sample Utterances (<em>Beispielaussagen</em>) in deinem Interaction Model (<em>Interaktionsmodell</em>). Bitte achte auf diese <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/functional-testing-for-a-custom-skill.html#cert-example-phrases" target="_blank">Punkte, um Beispiels&auml;tze zu pr&uuml;fen und zu testen</a><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/functional-testing-for-a-custom-skill.html#cert-example-phrases">.</a></li> <li><strong>Invocation Name</strong> (<em>Aufrufname</em>): Custom Skills erfordern die Definition eines Invocation<em> </em>Name, wenn der Nutzer einen bestimmten Skill mit diesem Namen &ouml;ffnet. Im Allgemeinen solltest du einen Namen mit mindestens zwei W&ouml;rtern verwenden und ihn sorgf&auml;ltig ausw&auml;hlen (sobald dein Skill ver&ouml;ffentlicht ist, kannst du ihn nicht mehr &auml;ndern). Schau dir die <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/choose-the-invocation-name-for-a-custom-skill.html#cert-invocation-name-req" target="_blank">Anforderungen an Invocation Names</a> an, um sicherzustellen, dass alles gut funktioniert und du die Zertifizierung erhalten wirst.</li> <li><strong>Sample Utterances</strong> (<em>Beispiel-&Auml;u&szlig;erungen</em>): Um abzubilden, was der Nutzer zu einem Intent (<em>Absicht</em>) im Code deines Backends sagt, ben&ouml;tigt Alexa eine Reihe von Trainings&auml;tzen, die mit diesem Intent verbunden sind. Es ist wichtig, dass du die Formatierungsvorschl&auml;ge und -empfehlungen in diesen S&auml;tzen einh&auml;ltst, wie in unserem <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/best-practices-for-sample-utterances-and-custom-slot-type-values.html" target="_blank">Leitfaden</a> beschrieben, um Probleme im Zertifizierungsprozess zu vermeiden.</li> <li><strong>Beschreibung, Titel und Symbol:</strong> Diese Daten deines Skills sind das erste, was der Nutzer sieht, wenn er die App von Alexa aufruft, bevor er ihn aktiviert. Die Beschreibung muss pr&auml;zise und ohne Rechtschreibfehler sein (genau wie der Titel des Skills). Das Symbol deines Skills darf nicht abgeschnitten oder leer sein. Weitere Informationen findest du in den <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/functional-testing-for-a-custom-skill.html#cert-skill-description" target="_blank">Richtlinien zur Beschreibung der Skills</a>.</li> <li><strong>Nichteinhaltung der Richtlinien:</strong> Wie du dir vorstellen kannst, haben wir <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/policy-testing-for-an-alexa-skill.html#cert-tm-ip-brands" target="_blank">sehr strenge Richtlinien zur Ver&ouml;ffentlichung von Skills</a>. Das f&auml;ngt beim geistigen Eigentum an, bis hin zur richtigen Klassifizierung der <em>Einstufung </em>deines Skills, z. B. mit Inhalten nur f&uuml;r Erwachsene. Daher ist es wichtig, dass du diesen Abschnitt besonders beachtest, um Verz&ouml;gerungen bei der Zertifizierung zu vermeiden.</li> </ol> <p>Die Developer Console bietet bereits eine erste &Uuml;berpr&uuml;fung deines Skills in Vorbereitung auf die Zertifizierung an. Im Tab „<a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/devconsole/test-and-submit-your-skill.html" target="_blank">Validation</a>“ wird dein Skill einem ersten Check unterzogen. Hier wird &uuml;berpr&uuml;ft, ob du alle notwendigen Felder ausgef&uuml;llt hast und dein Skill wird einigen technischen Tests unterzogen (zum Beispiel werden Requests an deinen Skill Endpoint geschickt und &uuml;berpr&uuml;ft, ob der Skill wie erwartet antwortet). Wenn die &Uuml;berpr&uuml;fung abgeschlossen ist, erh&auml;ltst du eine Auswertung der gefundenen Fehler. Diese kannst du dann direkt und noch bevor du die offizielle Zertifizierung startest, beheben. Das erspart dir Wartezeit.</p> <p>Wenn du der Meinung bist, dass wir bei der Umsetzung deiner Skills etwas falsch verstanden haben und du spezifisches Feedback hast oder weitere Informationen zu deinen Zertifizierungsergebnissen m&ouml;chtest, kannst du dieses <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/r.html?C=17SLHIRNEOZBH&amp;M=urn:correios:msg:20180911063610c880f3d8d26d42c6bc728f1fb0c0p0na&amp;R=1XDCBTMKGKGQZ&amp;T=C&amp;U=https://developer.amazon.com/public/support/contact/contact-us?subjectCategory=ALEXA&amp;sc_channel=website&amp;sc_publisher=devportal&amp;sc_campaign=Conversion_Contact-Us&amp;sc_assettype=conversion&amp;sc_team=us&amp;sc_traffictype=organic&amp;sc_country=united-states&amp;sc_segment=all&amp;sc_itrackingcode=100020_us_website&amp;sc_detail=email-cops-alexa&amp;ref_=pe_679090_102923190&amp;H=AXRYVWW96AI6X6KEL1AMPMFIKUOA&amp;ref_=pe_679090_102923190" target="_blank">Kontaktformular</a> verwenden, Bitte gib darin unbedingt den Namen und die ID deines Skills an. F&uuml;r allgemeinere Diskussionen kannst du die Beitr&auml;ge in <a href="https://forums.developer.amazon.com" target="_blank">unseren Foren</a> lesen.</p> <h2>Verleihe deiner Idee eine Stimme</h2> <p>Das Ver&ouml;ffentlichen eines Alexa-Skills ist etwas, worauf man stolz sein kann. Egal ob es sich um einen Skill handelt, der ganz neu definiert, was man mit seiner Stimme steuern kann, oder ob es sich um einen einfachen Skill handelt, der ein bestimmtes Problem l&ouml;st. Befolge unsere Best Practices und begeistere ganz neue Zielgruppen mit deinem Alexa Skill.</p> <h2>Ressourcen</h2> <ul> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/certification-requirements-for-custom-skills.html" target="_blank">Zertifizierungsrichtlinien</a></li> <li><a href="http://alexa.design/germany">Alexa Skills Kit</a></li> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit/learn">Lerne mehr &uuml;ber das Alexa Skills Kit</a></li> <li><a href="http://alexa.design/Tutorials">Tutorials</a></li> <li><a href="https://build.amazonalexadev.com/voice-design-101-webinar-ww.html?&amp;sc_category=Owned&amp;sc_channel=WB&amp;sc_campaign=wb_acquisition&amp;sc_publisher=ASK&amp;sc_content=Content&amp;sc_detail=vod-webinar&amp;sc_funnel=Convert&amp;sc_country=WW&amp;sc_medium=Owned_WB_wb_acquisition_ASK_Content_vod-webinar_Convert_WW_visitors_webinar-page_text-link-blade&amp;sc_segment=visitors&amp;sc_place=webinar-page&amp;sc_trackingcode=text">On-Demand Webinar: Voice Design 101</a></li> <li><a href="https://build.amazonalexadev.com/vui-vs-gui-guide-de.html?&amp;sc_category=Owned&amp;sc_channel=WB&amp;sc_campaign=wb_acquisition&amp;sc_publisher=ASK&amp;sc_content=Content&amp;sc_detail=Guide&amp;sc_funnel=Convert&amp;sc_country=DE&amp;sc_medium=Owned_WB_wb_acquisition_ASK_Content_Guide_Convert_DE_visitors_guide-page_text-link&amp;sc_segment=visitors&amp;sc_place=home-page&amp;sc_trackingcode=text-link">Guide: So unterscheidet sich die Voice-Entwicklung von der Entwicklung f&uuml;r den Bildschirm</a></li> <li><a href="https://build.amazonalexadev.com/alexa-cheat-sheet-von-der-idee-zum-skill-de.html">Cheatsheet: Von der Idee zum Skill</a></li> </ul> /blogs/alexa/post/51d38081-bb6a-478c-87cd-e643e8c64021/alexa-skill-developers-can-now-optimize-their-experiences-for-alexa-auto-vehicles-and-devices Alexa Skill Developers Can Now Optimize Their Experiences for Alexa Auto Vehicles and Devices Leo Ohannesian 2019-03-13T17:04:59+00:00 2019-03-18T18:46:10+00:00 <p><img alt="" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/default/Alexa-Auto-email-full-width-2x.png._CB469444400_.png" style="height:360px; width:1280px" /></p> <p>You can now detect when your skill is being used from an Alexa Auto vehicle or device and adapt your experience to be contextual.</p> <p><img alt="" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/default/Alexa-Auto-email-full-width-2x.png._CB469444400_.png" style="height:260px; width:970px" /></p> <p>Published Alexa skills are automatically available on all Alexa-enabled devices. However, tailoring your skill interface for unique settings or devices helps you provide your customers with the best possible Alexa experience.</p> <p>To date, you have been able to maximize your skill experience by optimizing device media playback capabilities, including audio and video. Today, we are excited to announce that you can now customize your skill experience for <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Introducing-Echo-Auto-first-your/dp/B0753K4CWG" target="_blank">Echo Auto</a>, which is now shipping to select customers in the US via our invite program, and <a href="https://www.amazon.com/b?node=17744356011" target="_blank">vehicles</a> and other aftermarket devices that support Alexa Auto. The automotive experience introduces another way for customers to interact with skills, while they are on-the-go and their attention is on the road. &nbsp;Now you can adapt your skill experience for any locale to be succinct, location-aware, and adaptive to your customer’s needs while they’re outside the home.</p> <h2>Recognize a Customer’s Device Type and Optimize Their Experience</h2> <p>When a customer interacts with an Alexa skill, your service receives a POST request containing a JSON body. <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/request-and-response-json-reference.html#system-object" target="_blank">The system and context objects</a> provide your skill with information about the current state of the Alexa service and device at the time the request is sent to your service. In order to personalize your customer’s skill experience, you must recognize the device’s capabilities in this response and adjust your service code to respond with a customized experience. This object will tell you whether a device can play audio or video, whether it supports Alexa Presentation Language (APL), and starting today, <em>whether the device is an automotive one.</em></p> <p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/b?node=17744356011" target="_blank">Alexa-enabled vehicles</a> and <a href="https://www.amazon.com/b?node=17942714011" target="_blank">aftermarket devices with Alexa built-in</a> allow customers to use their voice to play music, check the news, open the garage door, find the nearest gas station, and more. Auto Devices are any device that the device manufacturer has identified as being intended for use in a car. Whether they’re interacting with Alexa through a device like <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Introducing-Echo-Auto-first-your/dp/B0753K4CWG" target="_blank">Echo Auto</a>, or through newer <a href="https://www.amazon.com/b?node=17744356011" target="_blank">vehicles with Alexa built-in</a>, it is important recognize when your skill may be used in a car. Read our <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/automotive-property-for-alexa-skills.html?&amp;sc_category=Owned&amp;sc_channel=BG&amp;sc_campaign=roundup&amp;sc_content_category=MM&amp;sc_funnel=&amp;sc_country=WW&amp;sc_segment=" target="_blank">documentation on the automotive property for Alexa skills</a> to learn more about the automotive device property and customizing your experience accordingly.</p> <h2>Customize Skills for Cars to Better Serve Your Customers on the Go</h2> <p>The customer experience for Alexa skills on the road is different than interacting with Alexa skills at home. Now that you can detect if your skill is being used in a car, you can also design around this new context. Some design principles for in-car experiences that will be important to address are: keeping responses succinct, allowing customers to resume their interaction with your skill once they have left their cars (or vice-versa), <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/f23d0796-6c98-40d4-b499-e198b347a998/location-services-launch" target="_blank">being location-aware in your design</a>, introducing pauses and breaks when customers need to maintain focus, and limiting your design to be voice-only. Learn the design principles and customize your voice experience for auto by reading our <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/best-practices-for-designing-alexa-skills-for-automotive.html?&amp;sc_category=Owned&amp;sc_channel=BG&amp;sc_campaign=roundup&amp;sc_content_category=Personalization&amp;sc_funnel=&amp;sc_country=WW&amp;sc_segment=" target="_blank">Best Practices for Designing Voice Experiences for Automotive Devices</a> today.</p> /blogs/alexa/post/b82c72ff-0534-41ee-8c6f-b46c45771ad2/introducing-product-access-control-for-the-avs-developer-portal Introducing Product Access Control for the AVS Developer Portal Vinay Athma 2019-03-13T16:58:03+00:00 2019-03-13T16:58:03+00:00 <p><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/b82c72ff-0534-41ee-8c6f-b46c45771ad2/introducing-product-access-control-for-the-avs-developer-portal" target="_self"><img alt="Sample-App-Update.png" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/AlexaVoiceService/Sample-App-Update._CB528864937_.png?t=true" /></a></p> <p>Use Product Access Control in the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) Developer Portal to manage which&nbsp;AVS products the users in your account can access.</p> <p><img alt="Sample-App-Update.png" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/AlexaVoiceService/Sample-App-Update._CB528864937_.png?t=true" /></p> <p>On 8-March-2019, Alexa Voice Service (AVS) launched a new capability in the <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa/console/avs/home" target="_blank">AVS Developer Portal</a> called <em>Product Access Control</em>. This capability enables portal users with the&nbsp;<em>Administrator</em> role to manage which AVS products the users in their account can access.</p> <p><em>Product Access Control</em> is useful for two core reasons:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Working with External Entities:</strong> If your company works closely with external entities such as AVS <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-voice-service/systems-integrators" target="_blank">System Integrators (SIs)</a> or <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-voice-service/odm-solutions" target="_blank">Original Device Manufacturers (ODMs)</a>, <em>Product Access Control</em> allows you to invite and grant access to users for specific AVS products in your developer account. This makes it easy for external parties to collaborate with your company on a specific product without being able to see or access other AVS devices in your account.</li> <li><strong>Maintaining Product Secrecy:</strong> If your developer account has an AVS product that you do not want accessible by others in your company (e.g. a secret project), <em>Product Access Control</em> allows you to restrict who has access to that product.</li> </ul> <p><em>Product Access Control</em> can be accessed within “<a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa/console/avs/home" target="_blank">AVS Developer Portal</a> &gt; My Preferences &gt; Users &amp; Access.” Please note that this capability is available only to users who have an <em>Administrator</em> role in your developer account. See the screenshot below:</p> <p><img alt="AVS_Dev_Portal_-_Product_Access_Control.png" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/AlexaVoiceService/AVS_Dev_Portal_-_Product_Access_Control.png._CB469371406_.png?t=true" /></p> /blogs/alexa/post/72b7df59-1093-4c3e-99de-ece1f0e3d680/updated-tutorial-build-a-monetized-fact-skill-with-the-premium-facts-sample-skill Updated Tutorial: Build a Monetized Fact Skill with the Premium Facts Sample Skill Jennifer King 2019-03-13T14:00:00+00:00 2019-03-13T14:00:00+00:00 <p>Get an overview of our new premium facts sample skill for step-by-step guidance on how to build a monetized fact skill from scratch. This sample skill offers code samples in both Node.js and Python.</p> <p>Many developers have created a skill using our <a href="https://github.com/alexa/skill-sample-nodejs-fact" target="_blank">fact sample skill</a> template because it’s an easy way to get started in the world of voice. The premium facts sample skill (available in <a href="https://alexa.design/premium-facts-sample-nodejs" target="_blank">Node.js</a> or <a href="https://alexa.design/premium-facts-sample-python" target="_blank">Python</a>) is similar in that it is an easy way to learn <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit/make-money/in-skill-purchasing">how in-skill purchasing (ISP) works</a>. Using this sample skill and the <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/8019524b-6a98-4b7e-9995-c5d583696905/add-in-skill-purchasing-directly-from-the-alexa-developer-console">monetization tool in the Alexa Developer Console</a>, anyone can start building a monetized fact skill.</p> <p>As you get started with ISP, you’ll find there are three types of in-skill products customers can buy:</p> <ul> <li>One-time purchases for entitlements that unlock unlimited access to features or content in your skill</li> <li>Subscriptions that offer access to premium features or content for a period of time</li> <li>Consumables can be purchased, depleted, and purchased again</li> </ul> <p><em>Note: Consumables are a flexible in-skill product type but they are not part of the premium facts sample skill. Check out the <a href="https://alexa.design/name-the-show-sample-nodejs" target="_blank">Name the Show</a> sample skill to learn more about consumable in-skill products.</em></p> <h2>About the Premium Facts Sample Skill</h2> <p>The premise behind the premium facts sample skill is relatively simple – ask for a fact and you’ll get one. The premium facts sample skill introduces different categories of facts – history, science, and space – as premium content. Customers can make a one-time purchase to obtain access to one of the premium categories. Your version of the premium facts sample skill could have as many or as few different categories as you’d like (even just one). The premium facts sample skill also includes an all-access subscription so customers could just pay a monthly fee for access to all the premium content.</p> <p>Each one of the premium categories corresponds to a one-time purchase in-skill product. In the sample skill, they are named “History Pack,” “Science Pack,” and “Space Pack.” Think about them like e-books that you can come back to read whenever you want. The subscription in-skill product provides a single gate to access all the premium content. Since we provided all access using the subscription, we named it “All Access.”</p> <p>In this sample, we made the ISP design decision that customers can use either a one-time purchase or a subscription to access the same premium content. There is no requirement to allow customers two different ways to access the same premium content. You might decide that customers must use a one-time purchase or must use a subscription to access specific premium content or functionality.</p> <p>Here’s the customer experience flow when a customer asks for a fact:</p> <p><img alt="" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/default/premium_fact_skill_sample.png._CB469079754_.png" style="display:block; margin-left:auto; margin-right:auto" /></p> <p>Notice that even if the customer decides not to make a purchase, the customer still gets a fact from either the free experience or the packs that have already been purchased.</p> <p>One key point to remember – as the skill developer, you will never pay actual money to buy your in-skill product. Explore, play, and test the experience without worry about your credit card being charged for the in-skill products you create.</p> <h2>What You’ll Learn with the Premium Facts Sample Skill</h2> <p>The premium facts sample skill is a great introduction to building monetized voice experiences. When you start experimenting with the sample, you’ll learn how to:</p> <ul> <li>Create in-skill products using the monetization tool in the Alexa Developer Console. The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) Command-Line Interface (CLI) is also available for more advanced developers who prefer to work directly with code.</li> <li>Build in-skill products using one-time purchases for entitlements and subscriptions.</li> <li>Build a monetized fact skill in two run-time languages – Node.js and Python. The Node.js version is usable in an AWS Lambda function or as an <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/afa8c3b3-945c-4721-8363-44394ed4729c/alexa-hosted-skills-beta-is-now-available-to-all-developers">Alexa-hosted skill</a>. The Python version is usable as an AWS Lambda function.</li> </ul> <p>Note: While this premium facts sample skill is a great way to get started with ISP, we recommend using it to practice building monetized skills. I’d recommend taking your learnings from using this sample skill and apply them to your original voice idea before publishing to the Alexa Skills Store.</p> <h2>Getting Started</h2> <p>To get started with this sample, you need an Alexa developer account, and the sample skill located on GitHub (<a href="https://alexa.design/premium-facts-sample-nodejs" target="_blank">Node.js version</a> or <a href="https://alexa.design/premium-facts-sample-python" target="_blank">Python version</a>). The step-by-step instructions will guide you through using the Alexa Developer Console to create your skill’s front and back end, as well as creating the in-skill products. You can test it out in the Alexa simulator in the developer console or on one of your Alexa-enabled devices.</p> <h2>Additional Considerations</h2> <p>While the purpose of the sample skill is to help you get familiar with how ISP works, there are additional in-skill product design and implementation aspects that we will cover in future blogs. As you’re exploring the premiums facts sample skill, I’d like to leave you with this question to consider:<em> </em>How should you organize your skill’s in-skill products?</p> <p>As you decide how to organize your premium content into in-skill products, you’ll have to answer questions like: How many products? What type of product? What content is part of your free experience? This last one is one of the most important aspects. After all, a great free experience demonstrates to customers the quality of the content they’ll be paying for.</p> <p>When you come up with your initial approach, you might find your approach does not match this sample’s approach, which to totally fine. Once you have come up with an approach, get feedback from some real customers. While you could just ask customers what they think (and that may be the best approach for early iterations), one of the best ways to get feedback from customers is to conduct a <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/skills-beta-testing-for-alexa-skills.html">beta test</a>. Stay tuned for future posts on these ISP topics.</p> <p>We’re excited to see what you build with ISP. Tweet me <a href="https://twitter.com/franklinlobb" target="_blank">@franklinlobb</a> and I’d be happy to check it out!</p> <h2>Resources and Related Content</h2> <ul> <li><a href="https://alexa.design/make-money-guide">Make Money with Alexa Skills: An Introduction</a></li> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/cb72c35a-4c8b-44cb-82e9-84b2198de867/checklist-ensure-your-premium-alexa-skills-are-eligible-for-amazon-promotion">Checklist: Ensure Your Monetized Alexa Skills Are Eligible for Amazon Promotion</a></li> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/8019524b-6a98-4b7e-9995-c5d583696905/add-in-skill-purchasing-directly-from-the-alexa-developer-console">Add In-Skill Purchasing Directly from the Alexa Developer Console</a></li> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/d8363a66-99b0-4c4e-bae2-963b8b2c3023/which-type-of-in-skill-product-is-right-for-your-alexa-skill">Which Type of In-Skill Product Is Right for Your Alexa Skill?</a></li> <li><a href="https://alexa.design/skillbetatesting">Beta Testing Your Skill</a></li> </ul> /blogs/alexa/post/d015fcc0-d6c3-40d9-bd1a-f3d2a2508a7a/why-voice-games-are-part-of-the-future-of-gaming Why Voice Games Are Part of the Future of Gaming Jennifer King 2019-03-12T14:00:00+00:00 2019-03-15T16:58:36+00:00 <p>Developers are exploring how voice can enhance their games. As this facet of the gaming industry is beginning to take off, it is worthwhile to understand why. In this blog post, I will explore how I see voice as part of the future of gaming, and what you can do to jump on board.</p> <p>As Alexa becomes more and more integrated into our daily routine, it's important to acknowledge there are other ways voice can add power to things outside of utilities. We’re seeing this happening in the gaming industry–games such as <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/156b211e-355f-4bc8-b1dc-fde19d9acaad/in-skill-purchasing-takes-volley-s-thriving-voice-business-to-the-next-level" target="_blank">Yes Sire</a> or <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Activision-Publishing-Call-of-Duty%C2%AE/dp/B07C8H1VVV/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Call+of+Duty&amp;qid=1552344656&amp;s=digital-skills&amp;sr=1-1" target="_blank">Call of Duty</a> leverage the naturalness of voice to engage customers in a new way. Developers are exploring how voice can enhance their games, and reimagining their game as a voice-first experience.</p> <p>As this facet of the gaming industry is beginning to take off, it is worthwhile to understand why. In this blog post, I will explore how I see <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit/gaming">voice as part of the future of gaming</a>, and what you can do to jump on board.</p> <h2>1. Progression to an Ambient Technology World</h2> <p>For the past few years, artificial intelligence and machine learning have been at the forefront of technical news. “Ambient intelligence” is the idea that there is artificial intelligence integrated into things we routinely interact with. For something to be “ambient” in the technical sense, it should feel familiar, intuitive, and seamlessly integrate with ones surroundings.</p> <p>We are seeing this with Alexa in obvious ways. It is routine for a customer to ask Alexa to set a timer or ask for the weather. Tasks that would normally cut into our daily routines are made simple, becoming habitual and driving ongoing customer engagement.</p> <p>With games it is less obvious, largely due to the fact that the most popular games live in a virtual world. Taking into context your gaming environment, though, we can see the progression toward ambient games. For example, leaning your controller forward or side-to-side adjusting your view, or receiving vibrations from your controller when you are hit in combat.</p> <p>The two are slowly becoming one. Players are syncing their smart lights to match the context of the game. Games are integrating social components to be able to talk with your teammates during gameplay. VR and AR are becoming more widely available to the masses. It is not far-fetched to assume that the future of gaming will fully immerse each of our senses in the comfort of our own homes.</p> <p>Voice fits into this narrative. Imagine a future where you can directly communicate with other characters in the game unrestricted to the game mechanics, or give your own verbal commands to your fleet and they actually follow.</p> <p>You can already accomplish this with the <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit/gaming">Alexa Skills Kit</a>. Within your skill logic, you can call services and APIs that are associated to your game. If you consider a typical web game attached to an Amazon DynamoDB table, you can create a skill with account linking to your game that connected to that same database, allowing the customer to interact with the web application and Alexa skill seamlessly. This is a simple example of a powerful voice integration that you can add on in minutes.</p> <h2>2. Expansion of Our Favorite Games with Voice Companions</h2> <p>If you are an avid gamer, chances are your experience with the game does not stop when you complete the final level, especially when playing through a game you love. You watch playthrough videos, listen to the music from the game, read about fan theories, and explore DLCs and expansion packs.</p> <p>Beyond integrating Alexa into your game, you can consider voice as an extension of your game. Customers look for skills to make their lives easier. You can skills enhance the gaming experience as well. For example, create a skill that allows you to enter the game differently, or adds more onto an already great playthrough.</p> <p>We see this approach in skills like <a href="https://www.amazon.com/The-Pokemon-Company-Pikachu-Talk/dp/B074X8X6RL/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Pikachu+Talk&amp;qid=1552357356&amp;s=digital-skills&amp;sr=1-1-catcorr" target="_blank">Pikachu Talk</a> or <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07P71VT1T?ie=UTF8&amp;path=%2Fgp%2Fproduct%2FB07P71VT1T&amp;ref_=skillrw_dsk_si_dp&amp;useRedirectOnSuccess=1&amp;" target="_blank">Division Network</a>. Both are Alexa skills that are not required to play the game, but they take the game to the next level. In both games, it is clear to see they were made with a fan in mind. They allow you to experience your game in a way you haven’t before. They surprise and delight their customers. They are quick, entertaining, and exciting. Customers don’t expect these to be fully fledged games, but instead a moment that will make them feel closer to the game and its creators.</p> <h2>3. Opportunity to Build a Business with Voice Games</h2> <p>There is earning potential in the voice-game industry on both sides. From a customer’s perspective, voice games like <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Sensible-Object-Ltd-When-Rome/dp/B07D7GC66N/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=when+in+rome&amp;qid=1551903436&amp;s=digital-skills&amp;sr=1-1-catcorr" target="_blank">When in Rome</a> and <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Trivial-Pursuit-Family-Edition/dp/B07JBL3DQH/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Trivial+Pursuit&amp;qid=1551903449&amp;s=digital-skills&amp;sr=1-1-catcorr">Trivial Pursuit</a> are exemplifying the future of family board game nights. Customers can enjoy games longer and dive deeper into your fandom with skills like Jeopardy! All of these games are voice first, and Alexa customers are asking for more.</p> <p>Voice also presents game developers with a growing audience they can reach. The number of people purchasing devices with Alexa built-in continues to grow, as customers have bought more than 100 million Alexa-enabled devices, from TVs and headphones, to PCs, cars, smart home devices, and more. This means your game could already live in millions of customers’ homes with a simple utterance.</p> <p>Along with reaching more customers, developers are making money and building businesses with <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit/gaming">voice games on Alexa</a>. With <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit/make-money/in-skill-purchasing">in-skill purchasing</a>, you can offer premium content to customers at critical moments of game play, such as an extra life before they lose a round or hints before they get the answer wrong, keeping gamers engaged and sitting on the edges of their seats. For example, you can offer them:</p> <ul> <li>One-time purchases, or entitlements, that unlock access to a particular feature or content indefinitely</li> <li>Subscriptions offer access to features for a period of time</li> <li>Consumables that allow access to a feature or content for a specified period of time, or until a resource (like “extra lives”) is depleted</li> </ul> <p>You can define what you want to sell and the price. Beyond that, the Amazon handles the voice-first purchasing flow. You can also integrate with <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit/make-money/amazon-pay">Amazon Pay for Alexa Skills</a> to sell physical goods to your customers.</p> <h2>Join Us at GDC and Change the Game with Voice</h2> <p>Now is the time to <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit/gaming">build games for Alexa</a>. To learn more, connect with the Alexa team at the Game Developers Conference (GDC), March 18-22. If you’re unable to attend GDC in person, you can join us from your home or office to watch live streams from the event. For three days we will be streaming conference recaps, live coding sessions, and best practices for building voice games. <a href="https://build.amazonalexadev.com/20190320_GDC_3Day_LiveStreaming-Registration.html" target="_blank">Register now</a> to RSVP for the live stream and receive relevant updates.</p> <h2>Related Content</h2> <ul> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit/gaming">Learn About Alexa for Gaming</a></li> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/de130c67-0703-4480-a2b3-c9f2977a7dd6/how-to-build-an-alexa-game-skill-from-scratch">How to Build an Alexa Game Skill From Scratch</a></li> <li><a href="https://build.amazonalexadev.com/Voice_Gaming_Guide.html" target="_blank">Guide: How to Build Engaging Voice-First Games for Alexa</a></li> <li><a href="https://github.com/alexa/skill-sample-nodejs-quiz-game" target="_blank">Build an Alexa Quiz Game</a></li> <li><a href="https://github.com/alexa/skill-sample-nodejs-trivia" target="_blank">Build an Alexa Trivia Game</a></li> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/dd947dca-9b97-4ef8-98af-84e3ca462174/alexa-game-skill-would-you-rather-for-family-adds-in-skill-purchasing-and-sees-revenue-growth">Alexa Game Skill “Would You Rather for Family” Adds In-Skill Purchasing and Sees Revenue Growth</a></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> /blogs/alexa/post/9a79c87e-a264-476b-89c1-c0cc7c6a4956/alexa-developer-rewards-program-expands-to-france-italy-and-spain Alexa Developer Rewards Program Expands to France, Italy, and Spain BJ Haberkorn 2019-03-12T09:00:00+00:00 2019-03-12T14:30:41+00:00 <p><img alt="Mint-IN_blog.png" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/default/Mint-IN_blog.png._CB453999386_.png?t=true" /></p> <p>We’re excited to announce that we have expanded the Alexa Developer Rewards program to France, Italy, and Spain.</p> <p><img alt="Mint-IN_blog.png" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/default/Mint-IN_blog.png._CB453999386_.png?t=true" /></p> <p>We’re excited to announce that we have expanded the Alexa Developer Rewards program to France, Italy, and Spain. Now, you can make money every month for eligible skills that garner the highest customer engagement in these countries as well as in the US, the UK, Germany, Japan, and India.You can learn more about Alexa Developer Rewards by visiting our local pages for <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/fr/alexa-skills-kit/rewards">France</a>, <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/it/alexa-skills-kit/rewards">Italy</a>, and <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/es/alexa-skills-kit/rewards">Spain</a>.</p> <p>To date, the Alexa Developer Rewards program has paid millions of dollars to developers in more than 20 countries. You can read about how <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/1c5f9c52-9222-4669-81be-c091c9c9c151/gal-shenar-has-cracked-the-code-when-it-comes-to-earning-alexa-developer-rewards">Gal Shenar</a>, <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/b66bf85d-b194-4e24-a5f1-302592074a22/with-alexa-developer-rewards-david-markey-says-alexa-changed-his-life">David Markey</a>, and <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/e44c7dbd-0a26-40cb-918d-0142b1058520/with-alexa-developer-rewards-oscar-merry-takes-his-growing-voice-business-to-new-heights">Oscar Merry</a> earned Alexa Developer Rewards on the Alexa developer blog.</p> <p>Eligible skill categories include:</p> <ul> <li>Education &amp; Reference</li> <li>Food &amp; Drink</li> <li>Games, Trivia &amp; Accessories</li> <li>Kids</li> <li>Health &amp; Fitness</li> <li>Lifestyle</li> <li>Music &amp; Audio</li> <li>Productivity</li> </ul> <h2>Get Started</h2> <p style="margin-left:0in; margin-right:0in">We evaluate customer engagement and determine skill rewards on a monthly basis. You can increase customer engagement and potentially earn more rewards <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/9eb73b87-15ad-47c7-92d8-f3c3e5d058fd/5-ways-to-build-a-better-interaction-model-for-your-alexa-skill-and-improve-customer-engagement">by improving your existing skills</a> and publishing new ones. You can also read about <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/4a39d8bf-e27e-4da1-8a37-1196d3bd1f5c/how-to-increase-customer-engagement-with-your-alexa-skill?&amp;sc_category=Owned&amp;sc_channel=EM&amp;sc_campaign=DevIncentives&amp;sc_publisher=PM&amp;sc_content=Promotion&amp;sc_funnel=Convert&amp;sc_country=IN&amp;sc_medium=Owned_EM_DevIncentives_PM_Promotion_Convert_IN_RegisteredDevs_EM_IN_DI_FebMar19&amp;sc_segment=RegisteredDevs&amp;sc_trackingcode=EM_IN_DI_FebMar19">best practices</a> for promoting your Alexa skills to reach more customers.</p> <p style="margin-left:0in; margin-right:0in">There is no need to apply for the program. If your skill qualifies for rewards, you will receive an email from the Alexa team. The email will cover the next steps for your registration and payment account setup. Make sure your <a href="https://www.amazon.com/ap/signin?openid.return_to=https%3A%2F%2Fdeveloper.amazon.com%2Fap_login%2F68747470733A2F2F646576656C6F7065722E616D617A6F6E2E636F6D2F73657474696E67732F70726F66696C652F64657461696C2E68746D6C.html&amp;openid.identity=http%3A%2F%2Fspecs.openid.net%2Fauth%2F2.0%2Fidentifier_select&amp;openid.assoc_handle=mas_dev_portal&amp;openid.mode=checkid_setup&amp;openid.claimed_id=http%3A%2F%2Fspecs.openid.net%2Fauth%2F2.0%2Fidentifier_select&amp;pageId=amzn_developer_portal&amp;openid.ns=http%3A%2F%2Fspecs.openid.net%2Fauth%2F2.0&amp;language=en_US&amp;openid.pape.max_auth_age=1">profile section is up to date in the Alexa Developer Console</a>. For more information, visit our local pages for <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/fr/alexa-skills-kit/rewards">France</a>, <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/it/alexa-skills-kit/rewards">Italy</a>, and <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/es/alexa-skills-kit/rewards">Spain</a>.</p>