Robots with soul? Alexa gets personality, Google Assistant gets jokes
What’s the deal with these voice assistants? You want them to do a job like telling you when to get up, what the traffic’s like and to order a few more boxes of shredded wheat because DAMN IT ALL, I forgot to go grocery shopping yesterday.
Certainly up until this point, the choice for many consumers was Amazon’s service — mainly through its series of Echo speakers — and it sufficed. But what engineers have tried to hit at with rich, contextual conversation paths was to serve more customers that would otherwise be turned off by stiff prompts and lack of verve. So, they put work into more interactions.
One Echo owner who was interviewed by the Journal, for example, says good morning and good night every day.
“It’s so funny because I think ‘Oh wow, I am talking to a machine,’ but it doesn’t feel that way,” Carla Martin-Wood, 69, said.
The Wall Street Journal reports that “nonutilitarian” interactions with Alexa have rocketed into the double-digit percentages. Amazon has since been working on adding in more cheeky, more natural responses to some common queries.
Google, with its newly-launched Assistant service, prepped for launch with the help of former writers with Pixar and Onion to help land more of the right emotional notes in its responses. The path to the company’s goal of “an emotional connection with the user,” though, is still a while off from achievement.