Voice UX Today with Cathy Pearl of Google and Adva Levin from Pretzel Labs - Voicebot Podcast Ep 136
The Voicebot Podcast
My two guests today are widely sought after experts in voice user experience design. After more than 20 years designing voice user interfaces, Cathy Pearl is well known in the industry and is the author of what many people see as the key handbook for voice application design, "Designing Voice User Interfaces." Cathy currently serves as head of Conversation Design Outreach at Google. Prior to Google, Cathy was vice president of user experience at Sensely and before that worked at Nuance, Tellme, and Volio. She holds degrees in Computer Science and Cognitive Science and worked for NASA early in her career. Adva Levin is founder of Pretzel Labs, an award-winning voice interaction studio best known for winning the top prize in the Alexa skills competition for Kids skills in 2018. Other popular titles by Pretzel labs include Freeze Dancers and Kids Bop Daily. Pretzel Labs also works with brands, media companies and government ministries on voice user experience design. Adva is an Alexa Champion, has undergraduate degrees in Math and Economics, and a Masters in Fine Arts in creative writing from Columbia University. Adva first joined me on Voicebot Podcast back in Episode 49 in June 2018 and Cathy preceded here by a few months in Episode 30 two years ago this month.
Adva Levin joins us to share why you should design personas for your voice apps, how you can create them, as well as how to work with voice acting talent.Presented by ReadspeakerReadspeaker is a pioneering voice technology company that provides lifelike Text to Speech (TTS) services.Whether you're needing a TTS voice for your IVR system, voice application, automobile, robot, public service announcement system, website or anywhere else, Readspeaker have you covered.They've been in the TTS game for over 20 years and have in-depth knowledge and experience in AI and Deep Neural Networks, which they put to work in creating custom TTS voices for the world's biggest brands.If you're in the market for any form of TTS technology, check out Readspeaker today.In this episodeClifford Nass and Scott Brave, in their book Wired for Speech, showed that whether you want to or not, humans cannot help but form a picture in their minds about the voice they're hearing. Just from a voice alone, we can form an understanding of the gender, age, education, location and mood of someone, and more.So whether you create a persona for your voice applications or not, your users will form one anyway. That's why its so important to create one, so that you can try and establish some consistency in the mind of your users. Having a persona documented is also like a style guide for conversation designers. It helps guide writing and creates synergy on projects where many designers are needed. Adva Levin has created some of the most recognisable and award winning Alexa skills, including Kids Court, and also provides consultancy and design services for organisations through her company, Pretzel Labs. Most of Adva's work requires some kind of persona design. So who better to take us through the why's and the how's?LinksPretzel LabsAdva Levin and Pretzel Labs on Twitter See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Adva Levin, founder of Pretzel Labs and Alexa Champion, sat down with me to discuss her dive into the voice first world, characters in voice first applications, making skills for children, monetization and more.
In this episode, Teri welcomes Adva Levin, the founder and CEO of Pretzel Labs, a company that is creating some of the most engaging top-notch kids’ skills that are available today. Welcome, Adva Levin!Adva’s background is in writing, content strategy and conversation design. She started Pretzel Labs to create voice-first playful experiences for kids. She won the grand prize in the Amazon Alexa Kids Skill Competition for one of her kids’ skill and that skill was one of the top 25 skills of 2018.Creating Alexa Skills for KidsAlexa and other voice technology platforms sparked her imagination as a writer and she saw voice as a new creative medium.She got an Alexa device and when people came to her house they would engage Alexa. Adults would ask more utility-based questions, but kids were more playful with Alexa and asked fun and imaginative questions. Adva saw it as a new entity or almost close to a family member for kids to interact with.Actionable Tips for Kids Skills DevelopersChildren cannot be categorized into one group. There are different groups based on age, from 3 to 14 years. One has to decide what group they are developing their skill for.One has to consider the kids’ attention span and what they will be doing while they are interacting with a skill.One has to also consider whether the kids will interact with a skill while they are alone or with their parents and other family members. Adva’s skills for example, are designed not only for kids, but for the whole family to interact together.Creating a persona: This is very relevant in the design of voice experiences. One has to think of what their skill is going to do, then start doing the design (what it would say, what it would listen to from users, etc.), and the last step is coming up with a way to create emotional engagement for users.Kids CourtAmazon wanted to promote the kids' category soon after it launched, by making a worldwide competition for kids’ skills.This was Adva’s first experience in building a skill and it won the grand prize in the competition.Pretzel Labs’ SkillsThey consider how families can use Alexa in their daily lives.Adva thought about how Alexa can help families overcome some friction. She thought about how kids fight all the time, and wondered how Alexa could be a judge. She came up with the idea for “Judge Alexa”, a little persona that lives inside Alexa with her own courtroom. Kids and parents are invited to enter “Kids Court” and tell Judge Alexa what happened. Judge Alexa then walks them through a trial. Kids learn about the process of a trial, and roles of the defendant, prosecutor and witness. It’s all done very playfully and with a lot of humor. At the end, a verdict is given and whoever is guilty has to commit a dare-style sentence.Kids Court has been featured widely all over the world and receives raving reviews.Another one of Pretzel Labs' skills is Freeze Dancers. It’s a dancing game for kids. It has silly dance moves to keep kids going and having fun.They also have “Out the Door” and “Bedtime Hero” which help kids get ready in the morning and ready for bed respectively. They are for slightly younger kids aged between 4 and 8. They are meant to engage them more in the mundane tasks of putting on their clothes, brushing their teeth, and going to school. Parents don’t have to yell at their kids to do those things because with Alexa, the kids get to do them in an adventurous, engaging and fun way.Projects in IsraelPretzel Labs has been working on a project with MindCET (Israel’s Tech Innovation Center) and the Israeli Ministry of Education to use Alexa in schools to encourage kids to learn conversational English skills.Kids start to learn English from the 3rd Grade and they never really get the chance to speak English a lot or to practice speaking. They hear off of content from TV and music, and they get an English class about two or three times a week.Alexa enables the kids to speak English and enjoy it. List of resources mentioned in this episodePretzel Labs’ WebsiteAdva on TwitterOther useful resources:Voice in Canada: The Flash BriefingComplete List of Alexa CommandsAlexa-Enabled and Controlled Devices in CanadaTeri Fisher on TwitterAlexa in Canada on TwitterAlexa in Canada Facebook PageAlexa in Canada Community Group on FacebookAlexa in Canada on InstagramPlease leave a review on iTunesShopping on Amazon.ca See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
VOICE Round-Up: Adva Levin on building award-winning, voice-driven games for kids
This chapter is an excerpt from our interview with Adva Levin at the 2018 VOICE Summit - the largest gathering of the conversational technology world. Adva is one of the many folks we interviewed, people who are thriving at the front edge of brand, UX, research and design. Adva is a pioneer in voice-driven, children’s game development. Her shop, Pretzel Labs, creates voice-first games like Kids Court, where an Alexa based judge settles kids’ fights. Kids Court won the grand prize in the Alexa kid skill challenge. Adva is pushing out into new territory where we see how empathic, useful products can be educational, reduce screen time and, according to the users we’ve polled, be damn fun, too. This is just a taste, so make sure you grab the full episode and subscribe so you never miss a single Machine Yearning.
Adva Levin Founder of Pretzel Labs Talks Voice-First Games - Voicebot Podcast Ep 49
The Voicebot Podcast
Adva Levin is founder of Pretzel Labs, a Tel Aviv-based company that creates voice-first games that children can play through Amazon Echo and soon Google Home. The company came to prominence earlier this year as the Grand Prize winner of Amazon’s first Kids Skills Competition where developers competed for cash prizes for the best Alexa skill designed for children. Previously, Adva worked in product and content roles at a number of startups and has also done literary translation and screenwriting. Adva earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Economics from Tel Aviv University.