Conversational UI: Design Education

Conversational UI: Design Education

Since beginning my journey in voice user interfaces, I've been deeply passionate about the space. One of my motivations for leaving Amazon was to gain the freedom to engage with the broader community about conversational UI theory, since I was largely prevented from that kind of outreach when working on confidential products. Since that departure, I've engaged with the broader design community in a myriad of ways on this evolving topic. Cheryl teaches "Giving Voice to your Voice Designs" at UX Lisbon 2017 My book on multimodal design Conversational designs don't exist in a vacuum. Most conversational designers have to…
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Echo Look (Product and VUI Design)

Echo Look (Product and VUI Design)

I was hired to help a fledgling product team transform their initial concept lab pitch into a production-worthy multimodal design for an entirely new hardware product category at Amazon. Problem statement How might we create a completely new experience that helps customers manage their wardrobes, combining natural user interfaces with traditional user interfaces and Amazon shopping technology? At the time I was hired, a concept lab team had identified a product opportunity combining fashion with natural user interfaces, and had received funding for a small pod of full time employees to work on the concept as a secretive, "tented" project team.…
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Alexa Skill: My Countdown

Alexa Skill: My Countdown

My second published Alexa skill was born from a request from a dear friend. We were planning a joint family trip to Disney World, and my goddaughter wanted to know how long until the big day. Wouldn't it be nice to have a skill to make it easier for her mom to answer that question? Have an Alexa device? Enable the My Countdown skill for free today! The design process for this skill was somewhat unique. I initially designed the skill as the core example around which I built the sample deliverables for my now world-renowned voice design workshop, Giving…
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Alexa Notifications and Interruption Model

Alexa Notifications and Interruption Model

Upon joining the central Alexa Voice Design team in late 2015, my first order of business was to tackle a complicated systems design problem: how could we adapt a primarily single-threaded, voice-forward, reactive experience to allow proactive notifications? There was a great deal of caution surrounding the effort, as our product has been invited into homes, and we did not want to violate that trust. Further complicating matters was the as-then-unannounced Echo Show, which completely changed the interaction paradigm. While Echo had not supported large-scale multitasking, the Echo Show introduced the concept of navigation and a sort of back stack.…
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Alexa: Do Not Disturb

Alexa: Do Not Disturb

In parallel with our efforts on Alexa Notifications, I was asked to drive the completion of the Do Not Disturb feature. DND applied not just to Notifications but to Communications (calls/messaging), which meant a separate team of stakeholders and faster deadlines than the longer-term Notifications project. As with Alexa Notifications, I led the design side of this effort in partnership with Carl Mekala (and Sharbani Roy) from the product management team. This was my most "traditional" VUI design engagement during my time on the Alexa team - while some was new-product (Echo Look) and some was more systems design (Notifications/Interrupt…
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Alexa Skill: Trainer Tips

Alexa Skill: Trainer Tips

When I joined the Alexa team, the Skills store was still in its infancy. One of my first responsibilities on the team was to perform skill submission reviews, which gave me a unique perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of the early Skills platform. Still, I wanted to learn more deeply, and the best way to do that was to dive back into coding and develop my own Alexa skill. Do you have an Alexa device? Install the Trainer Tips skill for free! I developed Trainer Tips in early 2016, and it was one of the first 1000 skills approved…
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Windows Automotive Notifications

Windows Automotive Notifications

Many of our in-vehicle apps needed to provide information to the driver, and expected the same interruption models they enjoy on mobile phones. However, in an automotive environment, interruptions threaten the driver’s safety. Our solutions had to work in a multimodal environment, with potential touch, voice or hardware input. We designed, tested and implemented a notifications system that optimized for drive-related, time-sensitive notifications where a simple binary action can be taken in the vehicle. Logistics Work on the Windows Automotive design team was broken into 2-week Agile sprints: each sprint was either Design/Exploration, Prototyping, Research, or Final Design Delivery. Phases…
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Cortana in the Car: VUI for Windows Automotive

Cortana in the Car: VUI for Windows Automotive

Design a new voice user interface (VUI) for use in the car that passes all automotive industry distracted driving safety standards. In addition, guide all 5 major feature teams on the appropriate use of speech within their areas (Start, Navigation, Media, Communications, and Car) CONTRIBUTORS: Myself (design owner) / 2 Program Managers / 2 Researchers Process Our early process focused on developing a push-to-talk experience that provided guidance to users without overwhelming. Careful attention was paid to multimodality, error handling, and the interaction between the VUI and GUI. I drove hands-on deep dives (in partnership with the lead Speech program…
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Disney Friends for the Nintendo DS

Disney Friends for the Nintendo DS

As Lead Producer on Disney Friends, I owned the vision and delivery of an ambitious new game that blended four unique cinematic universes with a single, cohesive gameplay mechanic. We became one of the first Nintendo DS titles to incorporate speech recognition, but had to do so in a way that performed well, integrated seamlessly with gameplay goals, and could ship simultaneously in at least 6 languages. Project Summary I served as the Lead Producer on Disney Friends DS, from initial pitch to final gold master build. I led a 15-person team of artists, developers and game designers with a…
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