I love telling and listening to stories on my Amazon Alexa, almost as much as I also love drinking tea. My experience ‘Alexa Tell me a Teatime Story’ is a great way for me to combine these passions in a new platform that can transport tea drinkers to another world for a short time. I hope to become the first of many ‘Alexa’ authors.
Listeners can put their 3-5 minutes of tea brewing to better use by listening to a single scene of around 800-1000 words of a longer serialized story of the kind Dickens used to write. They can also set up a teatime routine every day to make teatime special.
I hope in the future to also bring new soap operas and on-going serials similar to The Archers and EastEnders to Alexa. The user is limited to just one segment per day. In a future update, I will include an in-skill purchase of $1 for listeners to hear one extra scene of the story per day.
I hope very soon to also introduce alternative endings and the ability of users to bring back characters from the dead or kill them off as an in-skill purchase.
I’d also like to integrate smart home tech into the telling of the stories; during scary moments the blinds could drop automatically and the lights could dim or flicker, doors in the house could mysteriously bang shut and the air conditioner could come to life bringing a chill to the reader and making it a truly interactive experience.
I imagine working closely with tea brands. A brand could work with Teatime stories as part of their content marketing strategy to craft a story specifically for its customers; an offering that could be advertised on the back of their packaging. For example, customers buying Indian Chai could be offered an 'Indian romance story' centred around a railway, free with their tea. Users who wanted to hear the next part would have to buy the next box, with a complete story spanning several boxes.
As the technology becomes available, I’d like Alexa to be able to order tea bags in for users once they have run out, debiting their Amazon account automatically. As RFID develops, a weight-sensitive tea caddy would be able to tell once the user only had 1 teabag left and would remind them to order to get the next part of their story.
I see RFID as being crucial to the medium- and long-term development of the experience as it would negate the need for users to have to set a routine as the stories would start playing automatically as soon as they opened the individual packaging of an RFID teabag.
As a creative person rather than a techie- my first novel 'The Talk Show' will be published by Bloodhound Books in March 2021 - this has been a really fascinating and exciting project for me and as such I've worked closely with other developers and the LinkedIn community to help make this a reality. The biggest challenge has been working out how to write an original story that works for the platform rather than simply converting a story written for print. I've also sought to keep the dialogue tree and the experience as simple as possible and this has also required some intensive revision, but my writing experience has come in useful here.