Laundroom Alexa

“Alexa, ask Laundroom, when’s the best time to wash clothes today?”

I designed an Amazon Alexa skill to help laundry-doers plan the laundry with voice only.

6 min read
Alexa Skill
Voice UX
Conversational UI

*
Skills are apps for Amazon's voice UI platform, Alexa.

Background

Laundroom Alexa is a follow-up project of Laundroom , which I initiated in 2016.

It helps Laundroom users to plan for laundry duty with voice only. Learn more about Laundroom mobile app and Laundroom watch app here.

This project is a voice interface design challenge that I set for myself. I aimed to apply Voice User Interface (VUI) design method to create a functional and delightful voice-driven experience for Laundroom users. This project has nothing to do with Amazon Alexa brand.

This project has nothing to do with the actual Amazon Alexa brand.

Tasks

Create a functional voice-driven experience for Laundroom users.


Period

Summer 2017

alexa

Key learning

In this voice UI project, my design tool shrinks to pure language and system logic, leaving out any visual elements that I have previously designed for Laundroom apps.

This simplification process pushes me to design “interfacelessly”. For example, I have to pay attention to the interaction of the system flow and the user flow, timeline of speaking, and the pauses between sentences to make sure neither Alexa nor the user is confused.

Voice interaction design is not just about thinking in Alexa’s language, but also about merging human and Alexa language to create mutual understanding. I believe this is the core value of a digital product designer.

I really enjoy exploring possibilities through writing storylines. I hope you will enjoy sharing this project.

VUI Design Process

I combined contextual design methodology with Amazon's Alexa Voice Design Guide to bridge human language with machine language.

Voice_Interaction_Design_Flow

Voice Interaction, Imagined

1.0 Identify Value

Is voice interaction necessary? Is it better than interface interaction? Does the use scenario actually exist? I proceeded if and only if my answers are all yes.

User stories

With Laundroom skill, users will know:

1

If there is any machine available at the moment

2

When is the best time to do laundry

3

When will the laundry be done

Product brief

With Laundroom Alexa, Laundroom users can:

1

Quickly check machine availability with voice only

2

Get the soonest completion time without calculating

3

Receive notifications when clothes are ready

Scenarios to initiate a talk with Alexa

alexa-dialgue-1

JTBD, Understood

2.0 Compile Conversation

How does the information flow look like to complete the jobs-to-be-done? What decisions users need to make?

JTBD Conversation Flow

alexa-detail-flow

Example Scripts

alexa-detail-example-scripts

Talk, intuitively

3. Explore Possibilities

A brainstorming session in voice interaction design. Exhaust possibilities to express intents.

Communication Architecture

alexa-detail-taslk

In Alexa’s words

4.0 Model Interaction

Instead of expressing system flow using visial information architecture, build system flow with “intents”, Alexa’s language.

Define

Intents

Laundroom skill has 5 + 1 intents:

1

CheckMachineAvailability

2

CalculateEndTime

3

SetTimer

4

CheckDetergent

5

Exit

6

DoLaundry

Explore

Utterance

I explored the “wake word”, the “connector word”, and the “invocation name”.

alexa-utterance-example

Connect

Slots

Design the “slot” to bridge utterances and intents

alexa-slot-example

Interaction Model Example

alexa-whole-example
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How will I measure success?

Measuring success of Laundroom Alexa

I came up with couple measures of success for this voice interface project:

Goals

1

Alexa becomes the primary use interface of Laundroom

2

Alexa learns user’s laundry-doing habit

3

Alexa learns about the context

4

Alexa learns about user’s talking preference over time

Metrics

1

Rate of major entrance

2

Time of completion

3

Rate of suggestion adoption

4

Rate of user satisfaction

Visual Demo for Voice Interaction

I used a bot platform to demonstrate the interaction between users and Alexa.

Thank you for reading!

Interested in learning more? Check out my other works: