Thought Leadership
August 10, 2020

Voice technology is changing the game.

Beth Abel

Conversational Design

We’re always interested in the development of conversation design.

Specifically how it can offer consumers real value, and gives brands a new insight into what consumers really want.

Here’s a couple of examples of stuff we’re really excited about.

1. Tech for good: using voice-based AI to support mental health patients

MyCoachConnect is a voice-based AI application that tracks the wellbeing of mental health patients. A University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) study followed 47 patients for up to 14 months using the app. Participants were asked to call a phone number once or twice a week to answer questions prompted by a computer-generated voice, such as, “How have you been over the past few days?”

The app was designed to gather the responses and the AI was trained to use the individual’s own words to provide a personalised analysis. Focusing on the choice of words patients used, the team were able to monitor their mental states and note how they changed over time.

Some participants said speaking to the app meant they could speak more freely and express themselves on their own terms, rather than talking directly to a doctor. The team hopes that data collecting apps like MyCoachConnect can analyse and intervene when early mental health symptoms occur.

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2. Connecting the elderly with tech through their natural behaviours

When our grandparents were young they were used to interacting with brands in person. They trust talking to a salesperson in store rather than interacting online or through a screen. It might not be a human, but creating an Alexa Skill allows us to leverage these natural behaviours to provide this age group with new digital experiences. We know that 28% of 55+ in the UK own a smartspeaker, so this is an area that brands should be exploring.

A brilliant example of a brand creating a service for this age group using Voice is Raise Your Voice by AARP (American Association of Retired Persons). They have created an experience on Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant that in three simple steps allows their audience to call their senator and demand cheaper drug prices or discuss key legislation that affects them.

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3. The new Google Assistant lets you talk to your web browser

Google’s new venture with Chrome means you can open and close tabs, bookmarks and more, using just your voice. To start with, the actions will be navigation based making it easy for those who aren’t so familiar with high-tech. This new way of browsing is a glimpse into the future of how we will be able to explore the internet and will allow people to multitask as it acts as a hand-free device. Over time the tool will learn more about each user and will recommend the types of things they may search for. Goodbye RSI!

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4. Putting the emotion into Alexa’s voice

One of our most common responses from user testing in voice is that users find the assistant tones robotic and monotone. This is extremely important as the key to voice technology is that it should emulate a natural conversation and currently the voice itself is prohibiting this.

Amazon recently announced that Alexa can now give some emotion to simulate certain feelings with its voice, like happy and excited, or sad and empathetic — with both options including three levels of intensity. This development paves the way for more realistic and natural conversations.

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5. One from us: copywriter to conversation designer

Hear from our Creative Lead, Claire Medcalf who appeared on in September 2019. She gives the unique insight into how we design and write for voice at Rehab and how it’s different to more traditional copywriting. I’ll give you a clue — in voice, the users answer back. Listen to the podcast to see how we handle two-way conversations.

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