The way how people interact with technology can profoundly affect their behavior, and nowadays this is more true than ever with the rise of artificial intelligence assistants.
As a dad with a one year old baby, I'm intrigued by the way how this new type of interactions can shape people's social behavior, especially in kids, who are at the first stages of social and language development. Can these type of interactions make us less polite?
It's still soon to evaluate the true impact that AI is going to have in our behavior, but one thing it's almost certain, the volume of interactions between humans and Alexa it's prone to increase each passing day. In many households, people already see Alexa as a family member.
The goal of this skill is to start creating and testing simple interactions with Alexa, that can be used to remind people to be nice and polite during conversations.
What it does
People usually forget to say "Thank You" and "Please" when they're talking to someone or even to Alexa.
With this skill, you can ask Alexa to remind them to be nice when they make a question, when someone helps them or even when they're mean or rude.
You can tell, for example, "Alexa, ask Be Nice what we should say after we make a question" or "Alexa, ask Be Nice to remind my friend what he can say after he's mean".
How I built it
I used the Alexa Skills Kit SDK for Node.js and the rest of the code was inspired by the skill samples or templates provided in developer.amazon.com
Challenges I ran into
I'm a designer with some front end skills and I was without time to find a developer to partner in the creation of this skill. So, one of the main challenges was to figure it out what it's was possible to build of my initial idea, considering my technical limitations (and the short time frame).
The main idea was to create a use case oriented to children, but that would represent a violation of the Amazon content guidelines. So it was necessary to rethink the initial idea in terms of content, branding, etc in order to create a broaden use case.
Designing the user experience was a great challenge: mapping out the scenarios in which the interaction with the Be Nice skill would make sense, discover how to handle errors during the interaction, trying to simplify the experience as much as possible in order to overcome the technical constraints and so on.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
While this first version of Be Nice it's extremely simple and far from perfect, I think it can be useful in some situations, especially in moments that involve social interactions with friends and family.
What I learned
This was an interesting challenge to learn more about the nuances that exist in designing for Voice UI. Figuring out the UX and trying to keep it as simple as possible it's crucial. It's more difficult than it looks to guide a user through the boundaries of a voice-only product that usually don't rely in any visual clue.
As a starting point for any Alexa Skill I would say that the narrower use case the better.
Amazon made a great work in providing great resources and boilerplate code that allow people to develop Alexa Skills really quickly.
What's next for Be Nice
The human conversation is extremely complex, it's crucial to observe how people interact with the skill in order to improve Be Nice and turn it in a delightful experience.
Being ambitious, I would love to see Amazon providing the possibility to choose a kind of Be Nice default mode, where Alexa could remember people to be nice during any conversation.