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Labs team hacks Alexa, ponders the potential for voice design in fintech

April 13, 2018

Labs team hacks Alexa, ponders the potential for voice design in fintech

Voice-activated systems like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, are just the beginning of a massive shift in the way people interact with machines. Curious minds in Octopus are fascinated with the possibilities this fledgling technology presents for fintech. Recently, members of Labs took part in a Voice Design hackathon to see if they could make Alexa talk and reveal her secrets.

As it turned out, Alexa was quite willing to spill the beans on the technology involved in her development. The Hackux organized event took place at Amazon’s new Shoreditch HQ and was run by a team of Amazon developers. The event’s purpose: to stimulate ideas on how voice design can create a positive impact on society and improve people’s lives.

Amazon challenged the Labs team to use voice design to help office workers improve their mental health. “It was pretty intense, but interesting,” stated Albina Cholak, Designer at Labs, who attended the hackathon. “We learned the rules and guidelines to design a meaningful experience for voice interaction. In just one day we went through all phases of design, from discovery to delivery.”

Along the path to discovery, the Octopus team managed to get Alexa to lighten up a bit and learn a few jokes. But the team’s ultimate goal was to turn Alexa into a self-reflecting tool that would prompt users with questions on their wellbeing. Then, based on user responses, the voice design could recommend music, meditations, and other techniques to help users clear their mind and relax.

Amazon’s developers were impressed with the team’s results, but cautioned that Alexa’s nascent technology might not be quite ready to offer nuanced wellness advice. For now, however, Alexa can still tell a pretty mean knock knock joke.