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AVS UX Attention System

When building a device, remember that using Alexa should feel conversational. This means that waking Alexa should be easy, interrupting Alexa should be supported and the customer should be able to easily understand Alexa’s non-verbal states, like Listening and Thinking.

Implementing Display Cards and Notifications will affect how the Attention States are displayed, and those features’ requirements should be taken into consideration as well.

Alexa States

Idle When Alexa is idle, customers can use the Alexa wake word or a physical control to wake Alexa, which starts her listening state.
Listening When Alexa’s microphone(s) have been activated, she is in a listening state and is waiting for voice input.
Active Listening When a customer is making a request, Alexa changes from a listening state to an active listening state, which denotes that the customer’s request is actively being captured.
Thinking When a customer has completed a request, Alexa enters a thinking state, which lets the customer know the microphone is no longer active and Alexa will respond shortly. During the thinking state, no additional voice input is accepted from the customer.
Speaking When Alexa is responding to a request with speech.
Microphone Off On a voice-initiated implementation, the customer can block Alexa from activating by turning on microphone off mode, which physically powers down the microphones and (if available) camera.
System Error When errors that prevent Alexa from functioning, e.g. Wi-Fi not available, occur, they are presented visually to the customer through Alexa’s attention system.

Attention System

Alexa’s Attention System is comprised of non-verbal audio and visual components that work together to communicate Alexa’s states to the customer. These audio and visual cues should be synced so that Alexa’s state change indicators occur simultaneously as the customer wakes, speaks to and listens to Alexa. The Attention System aims to make the interactions feel fluid.

Voice Chrome LED Sounds
Idle to Activated (aka Start Listening)
Listening
Active Listening
Stop Listening
Thinking
Speaking
Microphone On to Off
Microphone Off to On
Microphone Off
Notification Arrives
Notifications Queued
System Error

Sounds

Alexa audio cues are short sounds that play to indicate an Alexa state change. They are used in concert with voice chrome or LEDs, reinforcing the visual cues that the device provides. The fewer visual cues your device has, the more important the sound cues are. Even if your device has strong visual cues, if there is a strong likelihood the customer will not be looking at your device when activating or while speaking to Alexa, the audio cues are equally important as if your device had no visual feedback. In all cases, the audio cues should clarify rather than confuse. The AVS Sound Library can be downloaded from the Developer Console once you have registered your first product.

Depending upon your device design and whether your device is voice-initiated, how audio cues are used may vary. The key variable is whether your device is voice-initiated or not.

Start and Stop Listening

All devices need to use audio cues to indicate when Alexa has started and stopped listening. Voice-initiated devices use a different set of sounds than touch-initiated devices, even if the customer uses touch to initiate an Alexa interaction on the device.

Voice-Initiated

Preview
Start listening
Stop listening

Touch-Initiated

Preview
Start listening
Stop listening

Microphones Off and On

Voice-initiated devices also need to use audio cues when the user turns microphones on and off. Touch-initiated devices do not need these sounds as their microphones are always off until the user initiates an interaction.

Preview
Microphone Off to On
Microphone On to Off

Timers and Alarms

The following sounds should be used on voice-initiated and touch-initiated devices in the same way. When a timer or alarm goes off, the alert sounds should be played on a loop until the customer stops the alert.

If Alexa is responding (e.g. reading a Flash Briefing, or giving the 10-day weather forecast) while a timer or alarm sound should be played, the short versions of the sounds should be played once. Once the Alexa response is complete, the full length versions should be played on a loop.

Preview
Timer, default
Timer, short
Alarm, default
Alarm, short

Reminders

Reminders, or named timers and alarms, are comprised of an alert sound followed by an Alexa utterance. When a Reminder is created, the Alexa response contains information about how many times the audio files should be played in a loop, and how long the pause between repetitions should be. For more about implementing Reminders, see the Alerts Overview.

The urls for the sound file and the speech file are included in the Alexa response and the same files is used for voice-initiated and touch-initiated devices in the same way. In case the downloadable file is unavailable, the new-notification sound should be stored locally so that it can be played as a fall-back.

Preview
Reminder

Notifications

When a notification arrives, the new-notification sound should be played immediately. The audio file should only be played once for each new notification and should not be played on a loop. Even if Alexa is responding (e.g. reading a Flash Briefing, or giving the 10-day weather forecast) or media is playing when a notification arrives, the sound should be played immediately.

The url for the audio file is included in the Alexa response and the same sound is used for voice-initiated and touch-initiated devices in the same way. In case the downloadable file is unavailable, the new-notification sound should be stored locally so that it can be played as a fall-back.

Preview
Notification Arrives

Bluetooth

In devices where Bluetooth is implemented, the Alexa Bluetooth-connected and Bluetooth-disconnected sounds should be played when the device receives a connect or disconnect success event. The sounds should be played whether the user uses a voice command or in-app/on-phone control to manage the connection. The same files are used for voice-initiated and touch-initiated devices in the same way.

Preview
Connects
Disconnects

Error and Setup

Device sounds should be used during setup or if there is an issue with connectivity. Error sounds should not be added to an Alexa response. This is true even if the user’s speech was not understood by the service.

LEDs

1 LED Display, Color 1 LED Display, Single Color
Listening and
Active Listening
Alexa Attention State: LED: Listening
Alexa Attention State: LED: Listening
Cyan 100% opacity 100% opacity
Thinking
Alexa Attention State: LED: Thinking
Alexa Attention State: LED: Thinking
Cyan, blue alternating Flashing on and off
Speaking
Alexa Attention State: LED: Speaking
Alexa Attention State: LED: Speaking
Cyan, blue pulsing Pulsing
Microphones Off
Alexa Attention State: LED: Microphones Off
Red 100% opacity
Notification Arrives
Alexa Attention State: Notification Arrives
Alexa Attention State: Notification Arrives
One-time yellow burst One-time burst
Notifications Queued
Alexa Attention State: LED: Notifications Queued
Alexa Attention State: Notifications Queued
Slow yellow pulse Slow pulse
System Error
Alexa Attention State: LED: System Error
Continually flashing

Voice Chrome

Devices with screens are required to show Alexa’s Voice Chrome—the GUI attention system. The following images demonstrate each state individually.

Listening
Alexa Attention State: Voice Chrome: Listening
Active Listening
Alexa Attention State: Voice Chrome: Active Listening
Thinking
Alexa Attention State: Voice Chrome: Thinking
Speaking
Alexa Attention State: Voice Chrome: Speaking
Microphone Off
Alexa Attention State: Voice Chrome: Microphones Off
System Error
Alexa Attention State: Voice Chrome: System Error