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VUX World

Author: Kane Simms

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Learn how to implement voice first strategy and create world-class voice experiences with VUX World. Every week, we speak to industry thought leaders and practitioners on the three core pillars of voice: strategy, design and development. We share the deep details of how they do what they do, so that you can do what you do, better.
96 Episodes
Sarah Andrew Wilson, Chief Content Officer at, shares the secret sauce for creating the kind of Alexa skills you can build a business on.In this episode:This week, we speak to Sarah about the stable of skills and discuss:What it’s like maintaining 18 Alexa skillsThe Opearlo acquisitionUnique advice for people and companies just getting startedThe 3-step philosophy that runs through each of its Alexa skillsEcosystems and community and how the two drive engagementISPs and how is monetising Alexa skillsHow changing 1 word led to a 17% increase in conversionsHow gets its skills discoveredThe potential for advertising on assistant on TwitterQuestion of the dayQuestion of the day Facebook groupSarah on LinkedIn
The first episode of the new year is both a reflection on how far we've come in the last 12 months, and what to look forward to in the year to come. This is a special episode as it's the first of a new decade. And in this episode of the rundown, we're getting deep.  Biggest news stories of 2019:Apple acquires Pullstring - Was this an acqui-hire? Or is Apple using the Pullstring tool internally? Will we ever find out? Either way, 2019 started out with a big acquisition from a big player and showed good early signs of a growing industry.Sonos acquires Snips - Given the importance of privacy, Sonos might have struck gold with Snips, the privacy first voice tech company based in Paris. The sad thing for the industry is that Sonos will not support third party activity any longer and is keeping the tech for its own speakers.This could happen more and more as big companies realise the value of having voice technology and the talent to create and implement it. I just hope there are enough tools leftover to support the community and third party developers. Voice startup funding set to triple in 2019 Google BERT: understanding searches better than ever before, and ERNIE from Baidu, which can understand subjects and topics better than ever before, too. With these two developments on the AI front, the chances of understanding what users are asking for and being able to offer the correct response is increasing. ERNIE beats humans as far as its reading comprehension capability is concerned.Most overhyped news stories of 2019:Voice interoperability initiative - On the face of it, this sounds great. Lots of organisations joining together to create standards that will allow multiple voice assistants to run on a single device so that users can choose which assistant they'd prefer to use for a given task. In reality, given that Google and Apple aren't involved in this, will it have the benefits that it proposes? Well, perhaps if Alexa is your go-to assistant, then yes. This way, Alexa is the core assistant, but then Cortana and Einstein (Salesforce) can be used for more specific tasks. Humans review Alexa recordings - Maybe it's just because we're so deeply ingrained in the industry that I assumed that humans reviewing mismatched or failed utterances would be obvious. Seemingly, though, the public did not. I understand that users are concerned with privacy around voice assistants and that the industry needs to respond and develop trust. However, I think this story in particular, and the others that followed it, blew things out of proportion and were used as scaremongering.Most underhyped stories of 2019:Google AI runs on device - When this was announced at I/O'19, it got some coverage, but it wasn't made as big a deal of than I'd have thought. This is the kind of thing that Snips used as it's core differentiator. Now, Google can run automatic speech recognition on the device and takes Google Assistant a step closer to being a privacy-first assistant. The great Google action outage - In October, Google pulled almost all of the actions on Google Assistant offline without warning. Thousands of actions just vanished. It later transpired that it was due to a potential security risk around a phishing vulnerability, but the company didn't communicate anything to anyone, at all. The story was covered by Voicebot and that's about it. Imagine if all of the apps in the app store vanished over night, without warning. I thought it was big news that deserved more coverage. Hugging Face raised $15 million - The big two (Amazon and Google) are talked about more often than anything else. We're guilty of this ourselves sometimes. But we know that voice is about more than those two. It's about more than smart speakers. It's the interface of the future and the opportunities for using voice span well beyond the big two. And so when we see a company that is trying to build the definitive natural language processing library, that's big news. Other links we spoke about in the show:How voice assistants could change the way we shop - Kane Simms, Harvard Business ReviewTeam Say It Now finishes third in Alexa CupOren Jacob discusses conversation design on VUX World
How do NPR approach designing voice applications? And how do they engage users to make sure that they're designing the right things for the right people, Ha-Hoa Homano, Sr. Product Manager, Emerging Platforms at NPR joins us to share all.LinksRead more at npr.designLearn with npr.codesFollow Ha-Hoa on TwitterAudio player functionality suggestion on (still pending)
Sierra Fontana and Carissa Merrill are working hard to make the US Bank's voice services accessible to all. They join us on this episode to share how they're approaching accessibility for voice and why it's so important to prioritise accessibility early.Presented by the Conversational Academy. Save 10% on the world's no.1 online conversation design course.LinksWCAG guidelinesAll about VoiceItt with Sara SmolleyJoin Carissa Merrill and Sierra Fontana on LinkedIn
Facilitating a panel discussion on voice design with Ben Sauer of Babylon Health, Charlie Cadbury of Say it Now, Jen Heap of Vixen Labs, Rozzi Meredith of Voxly and Quirine van Walt Meijer of Microsoft.
Adam Greenwood is the CEO of the human tech agency, Greenwood Campbell. Last year, Adam and his team trialled placing voice assistants in residential homes in the UK to see whether voice assistants can help alleviate loneliness for senior citizens.We discuss the project and the results, as well as get Adam's take on the current state of voice and what he'd like to see in 2020.Presented by the Conversational Academy. Save 10% on the world's no.1 online conversation design course.This episode was broadcast live on LinkedIn. To catch the next live broadcast, join Kane Simms on LinkedIn.LinksAdam Greenwood on LinkedInGreenwood Campbell websiteWatch the Alleviating Loneliness videoGreenwood Campbell on TwitterPodcasts referenced in this episodeAsk Marvee with Heidi CulbertsonHelping Susan with Ruby Steel and Will Merrill
Taken from Kane's talk at the Bots, AI and Voice meet-up in London on 20 November 2019.The meet-up was ran by Roy Murphy of Synthetic. Check out the meet-up page for info on the next meet-up.Connect with me on LinkedIn to watch all future talks live, including the panel discussion on voice design at MUXL2019.
This episode is a bonus episode looking at this week's discussions on LinkedIn. We complain about discoverability and retention, but who's actually doing anything about it? Are you putting the budget required behind getting your apps used and are you utilising the tools available to you to retain users? More importantly, are you creating the right thing for the right person in the first place?Join the discussion next week
Is discoverability of Alexa skills, Google Assistant actions and other voice applications the duty of the platforms i.e. Amazon and Google, or is it the duty of the brand or developer creating them? We discuss this, as well as discoverability challenges within voice applications with Voiceflow co-founder, Braden Ream.LinksSave 10% on the Conversational Academy online conversation design courseTry out VoiceFlowFollow Braden Ream on TwitterJoin the VoiceFlow Facebook community
Jeff Adams was the founding manager of the Alexa speech group; the team that made Alexa listen and talk. Jeff joins us to share the origin story of Alexa: where it come from and how it was created, and why the device was called 'Echo'.Jeff also explains the details behind the three core parts of speech recognition: lexicons, acoustic modelling and language modelling, how the Doppler became the Echo and about his company Cobalt Speech.Linkswww.cobaltspeech.cominfo@cobaltspeech.com
Kane hosted the MUXL: Voice innovation 2019 Meetup on October 24th 2019 at Amazon HQ, and this is the opening talk. It covers the most recent smart speaker adoption rates for the UK, debates the 'voice first winter' and shares some recent behavioural trends from Code Computer Love.LinksGartner AI hype cycle, July 2019UK Smart speaker adoption stats from Voicebot.aiChinese smart speaker adoption, CanalysCode computer love UK smart speaker usage Survey, October 2019
Communicating address information to voice assistants is hard. Josh Wigmore, Head of Product, joins us to share how What 3 Words are making this possible.Win a ticket to All About Voice 2019All About Voice is the biggest and best voice conference in Europe. It's in Muchich on October 11th and feature talks from Amazon, Google and plenty more. Plus, yours truly is hosting the event.Win a free ticket by sending a tweet using #aav19 and tell us your best voice experience of 2019.In this episodeJosh Wigmore, Head of Product at What 3 Words joins us to share the challenges of addresses in voice, how What 3 Words are helping, how you can use What 3 Words in your voice apps and what the big tech providers need to do to allow accurate address communication.LinksVisit What 3 WordsWhat 3 Words for developerTry the What 3 Words Alexa skillFollow What 3 Words on TwitterConnect with Josh on LinkedIn
Proposing a new term for the voice first industry to consider: VTA - Voice-to-Action. It's the same as a call to action, only it's exclusive to voice first platforms and interfaces and relies on the call to action and the response being given and responded to on the voice first interface.In this video, we walk through a definition of VTA, as well as provide some examples of where Voice-to-Action is being used. We also walk through some of the other terms that have been created as the voice first industry blossoms as well as see how other industries evolved their own kind of language.For the full write up and all of the reference points and links, visit the show notes page: leave a comment or send us your questions to be answered on the podcast, visit
Claire Medcalf, Lead Creative at Rehab Agency, joins us to share her learnings on moving from a copywriter to a conversation designer and how you can do the same.Presented by BotmockBotMock is a purpose-built conversational design tool that'll have you rapidly prototyping and testing in no time.Check it out for freeBecome an expert conversation designer with the...The Conversational Academy is THE course that'll teach you the ins and outs of conversation design. Prepare yourself for the UX role of the future and enrol on the course today.VUX World listeners will save $100 when you enrol at this episodeThis week, Dustin and Kane catch up with Cannes Lions Gold-Winning Creative Lead, Claire Medcalf and discuss how she went from copywriter to conversational designer.We chat about the similarities and differences between the two, Claire's learnings in designing conversations, where the role will go in future and how you can become a conversation designer.As adoption of voice user interfaces become more prevalent, so too will the role of Conversational Designer. This episode will give you a glimpse into the life of a conversational designer and help you establish your own path to doing the same.LinksVisit the Rehab websiteFollow Claire on TwitterConnect with Claire on LinkedIn
It's our job

It's our job


Is it down to Amazon to help you get your Alexa Skill discovered? Is it up to Google to send Google Assistant traffic your way? Or is it up to you, the developer or brand, to promote your wares and drive traffic yourself?Discoverability is widely touted as one of the key challenges in the rise of voice adoption and usage. But what if it's actually something else?What if, the key to unlocking the VUI is psychological? What if it's about changing our habitual usage of our phone? And, if so, is that the job of the big tech companies? Or are we all partly responsible?
Mindsay CEO, Guillaume Laporte joins us to share how you can use conversational AI to improve and scale your customer care and support.Win free tickets to All About Voice 2019All About Voice is Europe's biggest and best voice event, and the team at 169 Labs are offering two free tickets to VUX World listeners!To be in with a chance of winning one of two free tickets to the event in Munich on October 11th, all you need to do is:Send a tweet using #AAV19 and tell us your favourite voice experience of 2019 so far.Winners will be announced on next week's show!In this episodeWe dig deep into how conversational AI is helping some of Europe's biggest airlines scale their customer care operations, and give you some food for thought as to how you could do the same for your industry or clients.Guillaume also shares with us some of the best surfaces to implement conversational AI, as well as some of the most successful use cases to focus on and where you should start when thinking of introducing conversational AI for the first time.We discuss the differences between customer care and customer support and the future of the two in a voice-first world.LinksMindsay websiteMindsay on LinkedINMindsay on TwitterEmail Guillaume
Mike Page, CEO and Co-founder Phebi, joins us to discuss voicifying the web and collapsing the path to purchase.Presented by BotmockIf you're using things like Lucid Charts and Microsoft Visio to design your conversational experiences in, you should check out BotMock. Those tools are business process mapping tools, are limited and will disrupt your rapid prototyping capability. BotMock is a purpose-built conversational design tool that'll have you rapidly prototyping and testing in no time.Check it out for freeIn this episodeIt would be easy to read the headlines and think that voice is all about smart speakers. It'd be easy to think that it's all about 'big tech', and the big two in particular: Amazon and Google.However, voice is an interface and, as we've spoken about many times on the podcast, we'll see voice increasingly appear on every surface.Helping to bring voice into other mediums is Mike Page and his company, Phebi. It allows eCommerce websites to add vCommerce capabilities and is pushing forward the charge to bring voice interfaces to the web.In this episode, we discuss how you can add voice capability to your website, user adoption, client and business awareness, the voicified web and much, much more.LinksVisit getphebi.comConnect with Mike on LinkedInFollow Phebi on LinkedInEmail Mike
Dustin and Kane speak with Charles Dawes and Patrick Byrden of TiVo about how they're helping users discover content through the power of voice, and the future of TV.Presented byIf you're using things like Lucid Charts and Microsoft Visio to design your conversational experiences in, you should check out BotMock. Those tools are business process mapping tools, are limited and will disrupt your rapid prototyping capability. BotMockis a purpose-built conversational design tool that'll have you rapidly prototyping and testing in no time.Check it out for freeIn this episodeWhen sitting down to watch TV, 60-80% of the time, people know what they want to watch. The problem is finding that thing. Knowing where to look, what channel to check, which on demand platform to search.Finding content on TV is hard.And what about the 20-40% of people who have no clue what to watch? How do they find something relevant? We've all been down that rabbit hole of skipping through film after film, trailer after trailer on Sky or Netflix, only to get tired and give up in the end.These are the problems TiVo are seeking to solve with its voice technology solution.For those of you in the US, TiVo will be a household name. A verb. And, for those in Europe and beyond, chances are, you've heard of TiVo. What you might not know, is that TiVo power the voice capability for Samsung TVs, Sky Q, Virgin and more. So even if you haven't interacted with the customer facing set top boxes, you may well have used its voice solution.In this episode, we speak to Charles Dawes, Sr Director, International Marketing, and Patrick Bryden, Sr Director, Customer Solutions about how TiVo are fixing the broken content discovery model through the use of voice.We discuss the TV landscape and the problems they seek to solve, usage of the solution and how they measure success, the technology used and architecture, personalisation and recommendations, maintenance and constant improvements, and whether the remote control is a thing of the past.LinksFollow TiVo for Business on TwitterVisit the TiVo for Business websiteConnect with Charles on LinkedInConnect with Patrick on LinkedIn
This week, Dustin and Kane chat with Nico Acosta, Director of Product and Engineering at Twilio, about how companies are approaching multi-channel conversational strategies.Presented byIf you're using things like Lucid Charts and Microsoft Visio to design your conversational experiences in, you should check out BotMock. Those tools are business process mapping tools, are limited and will disrupt your rapid prototyping capability. BotMock is a purpose-built conversational design tool that'll have you rapidly prototyping and testing in no time.Check it out for freeIn this episodeWe chat to Nico Acosta about how he's observing companies approach their conversational strategy using Twilio's Autopilot platform. This builds on the episode with Elaine Lee where we spoke about Autopilot from a design perspective. This time, we're zooming out and looking at how Autopilot can fuel your whole conversational strategy across all channels.Nico has a fresh perspective on technology architecture, building on conversations we've had with Matt Hartman and Charlie Cadbury and providing detail on how to actually build once and deploy across all conversational channels, including voice assistants, chat bots and phone lines.We discuss some of the parallels and similarities between IVR design and development compared to voice assistant creation, and how the IVR, voice assistant and chatbot industries are converging.Nico also shares some insights into the kind of use cases that are working well, including a chat bot that automatically generates a website for a small business based on a short conversation. Nico also shares his dream application of Twilio Autopilot, which is all about obliterating being put 'on hold' when calling a company.LinksFollow Nico on TwitterCheck out AutopilotBecome an expert conversation designerThe Conversational Academy is a fantastic online course that'll teach you the ins and outs of conversation design. Prepare yourself for the UX role of the future and enrol on the course today. VUX World listeners will save $100 when you enrol at
In this episode, we discuss the Siri announcements from WWDC19, the Alexa announcements from reMARS and the Future of Voice Commerce report.WWDC AnnouncementsAlexa ConversationsAlexa Cross-Skill ScenariosThe Future of Voice Commerce report
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