Welcome to the tenth edition of The Voice Beat newsletter. This month, we're looking at changes in smart speaker user behavior, and continue to focus on the voice technology community's developments and efforts to combat COVID-19. We've also got some exciting announcements about opportunities to join our team.
Report: Analyzing Voice Assistance During COVID-19
What insights can we uncover about consumers from what they say to their voice assistants? In a new report, RAIN and Pulse Labs (us!) set out to explore this question through the lens of the coronavirus outbreak, tapping into Pulse Labs’ panel of 1,400+ people in the US who share their voice assistant search history. An analysis of thousands of Alexa queries across March and April provide a new first-hand window into consumer questions, concerns, hopes, and fears as the pandemic has unfolded.
The Pulse Labs team is looking for an operations analyst intern to help us out this summer. This is a remote, paid internship for folks in the United States. The intern will support our user experience testing operations team by assisting with the setup of test environments, analyzing test transcripts, assisting with panel acquisition, and contributing to reports for Fortune 500 companies. We’re a close-knit startup, so everyone does a variety of work, and things will change quickly and often.
We're looking to expand out team and will have several new job postings in the next week so make sure to check out our careers page for some exciting opportunities.
Congrats Nick Schwab!
Alexa Champion and voice-first developer, Nick Schwab -- the man who has put more people to sleep than Kevin Costner's The Postman -- has announced that he will be focusing his efforts full time on building voice-first experiences at his company, Invoked Apps. Now we can sleep even more soundly assured that Nick will on the job full-time. We join the voice-first community in congratulating Nick in this new chapter!
COVID-19 and User Behavior on Voice Devices
The gold standard in the voice space, the NPR & Edison Research Smart Audio Report, has put out their latest edition, and includes some interesting sections on consumer behavior changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. News and information consumption on smart speakers has increased for 35% of smart speaker owners, and this grows to 50% among younger (ages 13-34) owners. The report also highlights that 52% of voice-assistant users use voice tech several times a day or nearly every day, compared to 46% before the outbreak.
Apple and Google Team up on COVID-19 Contact Tracing Technology
Apple and Google have announced a joint effort to enable the use of Bluetooth for tracking the spread of COVID-19. The system will help government and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus, keeping user privacy and security central to the design.
A series of documents and white papers have already been released laying out the new system showing how short-range Bluetooth communications can establish a voluntary contact-tracing network. Both companies will release APIs enabling interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities, which will be available for users to download via their respective app stores. For sample code, UI, and detailed policies for COVID-19 exposure-notification apps, see Tech Crunch.
Read the announcement in Apple's Newsroom or Google's Company News page
Mayo Clinic Publishes COVID-19 Alexa Skill
The Mayo Clinic has released the "Mayo Clinic Answers on COVID-19" Alexa skill. Users can use the skill to ask questions about coronavirus and receive information from experts at Mayo Clinic and the CDC, or run a COVID-19 self-assessment to help users determine if they should seek testing.
"With a rapidly developing pandemic like COVID-19, delivering trusted health information on how to respond to our patients and the public is critical," said Sandhya Pruthi, MD, a Mayo Clinic physician and medical director for Mayo's Health Education and Content Services. "The 'Mayo Clinic Answers on COVID-19' skill for Alexa offers the latest information on symptoms, prevention and how to cope in a hands-free way using only the voice ― a fact that is especially important when we're trying to reduce the spread of a virus transmitted by physical contact." Read Mayo Clinic's Post
Apple Acquires AI Startup Voysis
According to Bloomberg, Apple has acquired Dublin-based artificial intelligence startup Voysis. Both Bloomberg and Voicebot.AI speculate that Voysis's technology, which included a platform for digital voice assistants to better understand human natural language, could be used to improve Apple's Siri voice assistant. Read more on Bloomberg and Voicebot.AI
Are you planning to launch a new Alexa Skill or Google Action? Talk to us now about remote testing to make sure your voice app is ready to delight from the first invocation. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request a demo.