At the Voice 22 summit in Arlington, Virginia, a community of voice developers, device makers, and technology influencers came together to discuss how developers can leverage Alexa’s voice-forward and multimodal capabilities to shape the next generation of customer experiences.
Let’s take a closer look at the highlights from the world’s largest voice showcase and see how established brand leaders and up-and-coming developers leverage Alexa.
During the conference, developers and skill builders showcased the vast range of Alexa capabilities. From building voice interfaces in space to showcasing how-tos on creating emotional responses that resonate with customers, here are the highlights of some of the top sessions featuring Alexa:
Michael Collett, a conversation designer and journalist for the Australian Broadcast Corporation (ABC), presented the potential of adding hyperlocal news to smart speakers. Collett’s team uses natural language generation and Alexa to power the ABC Emergency Voice skill, which delivers quick, 24/7 updates about any fires, floods, or storms near listeners’ specific locations.
Brian Tarbox, a top Alexa skill builder, gave a talk outlining why skills that evoke an emotional response are more engaging and generate higher satisfaction. Tarbox also walked through the code required to enhance Alexa responses that can boost retention. Learn more about how you can use new Alexa emotions and speaking styles to create a more natural and intuitive voice experience.
Justin Nikolaus, Lead Voice Designer for Alexa, discussed working with NASA to integrate Alexa into the Orion spacecraft. As part of the Artemis I mission, Nikolaus shared insights on how voice can be a powerful tool for both crews and future space tourists. Learn more about the incredible tech innovations that took Alexa into space.
Mark Tucker, Senior Technical Director at RAIN discussed how to develop HIPAA-eligible skills and why Alexa Presentation Language is a crucial tool to create delightful patient experiences. He also outlined what it takes to craft an Alexa skill that can list active prescriptions, incorporate reorders, and track shipments.
Heidi Culbertson, keynote speaker at VOICE22 and organizer of the Aging & Engaging hackathon, sees voice as a way to connect with adults age 55 and over. Voice technology has the potential to step in and “make things faster, easier, and more efficient,” Culbertson says. “It also offers less cognitive load if placed where there’s a lot of friction.”
That’s why Culbertson helped organize the Aging & Engaging Hackathon, a contest to build Alexa experiences to meet the aspirations of those age 55 and older.
The hackathon challenged developers to create skills that promote connection, activity, cognitive engagement, and support. In addition to an overall champion, there were winners in five unique sub-categories ranging from staying sharp to movement and the best multi-modal skill.
The overall champion was Family Journal, a skill that fosters family connection and creates a private, miniature social network on Alexa to share moments from daily life easily. Other category winners included:
Your Memory Challenge (best ‘Stay Sharp skill), which tests listeners with five questions after hearing five short stories
Senior Stretch (best ‘Keep Moving’ skill), a skill featuring guided stretching routines that help users increase their range of motion and have fun.
Fingerstring (best 'Be Supported’ skill), offering automated check-in & reminders.
Storyteller Cafe (best ‘Let's Connect’ skill), a skill with a virtual café to spend time with virtual friends.
Cash Register (best ‘Multi-Modal’ skill), which turns Alexa devices into a point of sale that removes barriers like keyboards, touch screens, and payment terminals.
“21% of the US population is over 50. By 2050, there will be over 2 billion people globally older than 65. Voice is the right technology at the right time to meet this massive demographic shift,” said Culbert.
View all the winners of the Aging & Engaging hackathon here.
While the voice development ecosystem is spread out around the world, VOICE22 presented developers with a great venue to share their skills.. Yet with so many developers working independently, large-scale conferences offer a crucial way to forge connections and accelerate innovation.
Alexa Chief Evangelist Jeff Blankenburg said, “These events are one of the few times when you’re surrounded by people who ‘get it.’ At most other events, you’re educating people about voice, but here you get to dive into the niche with people heavily invested in its future.
The voice community also faces unique challenges when it comes to solving the puzzle of skill discovery, monetization, and creating fresh content. Getting a fresh perspective from an inspiring speaker pays dividends—and the community at large sees the benefits.
“The ethos of everyone taking part here is pretty simple: A rising tide lifts all boats. As voice continues to increase in popularity, then we all win!” said Blankenburg.
Discover all the insights from VOICE22 on demand and get started creating groundbreaking ambient experiences with Alexa today.