Exploring Voice-First Development
With chapters selected by Ann Thymé-Gobbel, Ph.D. and Charles R. Jankowski Jr., Ph.D.
  • July 2019
  • ISBN 9781617297502
  • 112 pages
Voice-enabled applications like Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple’s Siri, and speech-based chatbots are enriching our modern lives, at work and at play. Whether we’re adding items to our grocery list, automatically reordering prescriptions, listening to a favorite playlist, managing reminders, or automating conference calls, voice-enabled applications improve our user experience. Even more exciting is the wide availability of platforms for developing voice-enabled apps. More important than great dev tools, however, is understanding how to design great voice apps. And the best way to learn is by exploring real-world voice experiences and proven development strategies.

Exploring Voice-First Development provides you with three chapters expertly picked by Ann Thymé-Gobbel and Charles Jankowski from their book, Voice-First Development. In this fast and focused sampler, these seasoned voice experts introduce you to core concepts of conversational voice before drilling down to key skills like handling vague, unclear or ambiguous user requests, and cultivating user confidence with meaningful confirmations. The examples in these chapters are based on real world voice solutions, offering code and design techniques as well as tips for avoiding common pitfalls as you blend design, development, and user concerns for voice-first success!
Table of Contents detailed table of contents

Voice-first development components

1.1 Voice-first, voice-only, and conversational everything

1.2 Introduction to voice technology components

1.2.1 Speech to text

1.2.2 Natural language understanding

1.2.3 Dialog management

1.2.4 Natural language generation

1.2.5 Text to speech

1.3 Meet the phases of voice-first development

1.3.1 Plan

1.3.2 Design

1.3.3 Build

1.3.4 Test

1.3.5 Deploy & Assess

1.3.6 Iterate

1.4 Hope is not a strategy—​but to plan & execute is


Resolving incomplete requests through disambiguation

7.1 Incomplete requests

7.1.1 Reaching completeness through dialog management

7.2 Ambiguous requests

7.3 Disambiguation methods

7.3.1 Logic-based assumptions

7.3.2 Yes/No questions

7.3.3 A/B sets

7.3.4 Static lists

7.3.5 Dynamic lists

7.3.6 Open sets

7.3.7 Menus

7.4 Testing on the device to find and solve issues

7.4.1 Two big lessons

7.5 Toward code independence: using webhooks

7.5.1 Fulfillment and Webhooks

7.5.2 Webhook overview

7.5.3 Webhook in depth


Conveying reassurance with confidence and confirmation

8.1 Conveying reassurance and shared certainty

8.1.1 Setting expectations with your implications

8.2 Webhooks, take 2

8.2.1 Dialogflow system architecture

8.2.2 The webhook request

8.2.3 The webhook response

8.2.4 Implementing the webhook

8.3 Confirmation methods

8.3.1 Non-verbal confirmation

8.3.2 Generic acknowledgment

8.3.3 Implicit confirmation

8.3.4 Explicit confirmation

8.4 Confirmation placement—​confirming slots versus intents

8.5 Disconfirmation: dealing with “no”

8.6 Additional reassurance techniques and pitfalls

8.6.1 System pronunciation

8.6.2 Backchannels

8.6.3 Discourse markers

8.6.4 VUI architecture

8.7 Choosing the right confirmation method


What's inside

“Voice-first development components”, “Resolving incomplete requests through disambiguation”, and “Conveying reassurance with confidence and confirmation” from Voice-First Development.

About the author

Ann Thymé-Gobbel and Charles Jankowski have worked in speech recognition and natural language understanding for over 30 years. Ann is currently the Voice UI/UX Design Leader at Sound United. She holds a Ph.D. in cognitive science and linguistics from UC San Diego. Charles is currently Director of NLP Application at CloudMinds Technologies. He holds S.B., S.M., and Ph.D. degrees from M.I.T. Together Ann and Charles created a multi-modal conversational natural language interface to assist acute and chronic care patients.

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