KSU Masters Project Journal
Week 10

Kent State University - Master's Project Proposal Spring 2018

Smart Kitchen: The Amazon Fresh Refrigerator & Voice based UX integrated Alexa

Week 10 - Scope

  • Define a series of Alexa Skills specific to Amazon recommendations that also relate to the mental Model findings published in weeks 8-9

  • Supporting links to the skills. Alexa Skills Kit
    Source: Alex skill builders guide - 10 things every Alexa skills should do

  • Updated User Sample Dialogues (Bottom of page)

Amazon Skills

Skill examples and solutions

1. Skill Example: Do One Thing Really Well

An example of a skill that does one thing really well is a skill called Games Back . The sole purpose of this skill is to tell you how many games back from a first place your favorite baseball team currently is. It doesn’t have live game scoring, and it doesn’t even tell you if your team won their last game. It only tells you the current standings for your selected team.


Link: https://developer.amazon.com/designing-for-voice/design-process/

SMART Refrigerator Skill: Alexa, What's Expired

Skill Concept


The skill is pretty much what you would expect to experience when asking Alexa in front of your refrigerator, what's expired? The user asks Alexa while standing in the kitchen, what's expired. Alexa responds with just one minute while I check. Alexa then displays a list of previous purchases that she's familiar with that most likely are inside of your refrigerator and have an expiration date that is either expired or close to expiring. These two different categories are shown in a stack ranked priority in terms of their expiration date or close to the expiration date.


Additionally, for items purchased for cooking such as spices, not stored in the refrigerator, Alexa can use artificial intelligence that can determine the possibility for needing to reorder as well as depletion rates in an algorithm to more accurately determine the potential for expiration across its entire member base.

2. Skill Example: Use a Memorable Invocation Name and Utterances

It can be easy to come up with an invocation name for your skill, but it’s more important to come up with an invocation name that is memorable. A great example of this is “Alexa, open the Magic Door.”


Link: https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/understanding-how-users-invoke-custom-skills.html

SMART Refrigerator Skill: Alexa, Cook Me A Surprise

Skill Concept


Alexa wants to know you, understand your preferences, and in the kitchen understand your food interests, as well as introduce you and educate you about the world of foods and cooking. Additionally, nutrition is a large dimension of interest for many Americans today. There is a myriad of meal plans, diet, and user preferences when thinking about meal plans online. Alexa has armed with all of this knowledge as well as a working and learning understanding of your browsing history, favorites, and past nutritional preferences.


The skill, “Cook Me A Surprise”, Leverage is this intelligence allowing the user to walk into the kitchen and call out a command. Alexa, armed with her knowledge about your preferences may pull up a series of five options specific to the time of day that might inspire you to either purchase ingredients or leverage existing ingredients already in the refrigerator. Many of her suggestions might be specific items she's aware of that you have in your kitchen already weather from past purchases or purchases from other sources you have let her know are currently in your kitchen.



3. Skill Example: Focus on Intents Rather Than Commands

When you build intents and sample utterances, think about the ways a customer would ask for that intent. For example, with the Dev Tips skill, the core functionality is to answer common questions that developers might ask. But it is very command focused, meaning the user has a specific request in mind.


Sample requests include:

Sample requests include:


“Alexa, ask Dev Tips about {topic}.”

“Tell me about {topic}.”

“How do I use {topic}?”


Cheese Graders

“Alexa, Tell me about {cheese graders}.”

“How do I use {cheese graders}?”

“Show me a video on using {cheese graders}?”



Link: https://developer.amazon.com/designing-for-voice/what-users-say/

SMART Refrigerator Skill: Alexa, Tell Me About

Skill Concept

User Intent: Learn about a new Kitchen tool required for a recipe.
User utterances: “Tell me about Cheese Graders”

In this Alexa skill, tell me about is the utterance the user would make to learn more about a specific food tool such as a cutting board or a knife, required to complete a task while cooking a recipe. The utterance, tell me about can be followed up with a myriad of further conversational turns while interacting with Alexa. For instance, the user might ask Alexa to tell them about cheese graters. Once the Alexa command is given the user can continue to probe for further information about cheese graters. Alexa will continue to provide information about cheese graters as long as the user's questions remain relevant.


4. Skill Example: Simplify Choices

Sometimes a skill needs to present the user with choices. When you’re building this response into your skill, it’s important to think about what you are asking your user for, and how they might respond.


Here’s another example using the Dev Tips skill: A user asked the skill for more information about Alexa Developer Rewards. Once the skill has provided the answer, we want to keep the conversation going by giving the user another opportunity to ask a question. It is very common to provide prompts like:


Sample requests include:


“Is there something else I can help you with?”

“Do you have another question?”

“Would you like to know something else?”

Source: Alex skill builders guide - 10 things every Alexa skills should do


Skill Concept - Simplify Choices for Cheese Graders

“Is there something else I can help you with?”

“Do you have another question about cheese graders?"

“Would you like to know something else about cheese graders?”



Link: https://developer.amazon.com/designing-for-voice/what-alexa-says/#prompt-with-guidance-for-the-user



5. Pass the One-Breath Test


For most interactions with Alexa, the user doesn’t want a skill to drone on and on with options or

descriptions in a single response. There are obvious exceptions to this rule, like with storytelling

skills and adventure games. In general, a good rule of thumb for all of your responses is to give it

the “one breath test.”

If you can say the response out loud without taking a breath, the response is probably the right

length. If you need to take a breath, think about how you could shorten your response, or break it

into segments as the user progresses through the flow of your skill.

Source: Alex skill builders guide - 10 things every Alexa skills should do















Skill Concept - Understanding Cheese Graders


“Alexa, How do I use a cheese grater?”



“Here are a few videos on how to use cheese graters.”

“Do you have another question about cheese graders?"


“Would you like to know something else about cheese graders?”



Link: https://developer.amazon.com/designing-for-voice/what-alexa-says/#use-brevity-arrangement-and-pacing-when-listing-options



5. Include a Variety of Responses

You’ve heard the saying “a picture is worth 1,000 words?” This is absolutely true when dealing with web and mobile design. There are consistent design elements on the web and mobile apps because they are using design patterns that communicate large amounts of information with very little explanation.


However, unlike web and mobile apps, the voice doesn’t have a visual language. When designing for voice, you have to fall back to the consistent design elements of a conversation between two humans.


Imagine walking into your office every morning, and consistently saying “good morning” to one of your colleagues. Aside from a generic “good morning” in response, you can’t predict exactly how that colleague would respond.


Now imagine your colleague, every morning, responds with “Hi. Good morning. It’s going to be a great day today.” After receiving the same response every day, you might eventually stop your interactions with them over time. It’s unnatural for someone to say the same thing every time you talk to them. The same holds true when speaking to Alexa.


Hearing something unexpected in a response makes us pay closer attention. This means that every time a user interacts with your skill, you are determining exactly how engaged they are going to be.

Source: Alex skill builders guide - 10 things every Alexa skills should do


Alexa sample responses:  A user asking Alex to meal suggestions



“Alexa, give me some meal suggestions?”



“It's 5pm. I assume you're interested in dinner? Or are you looking for a savory snack?"


“It's 5pm. Sounds like dinner time? Or did you have something else in mind?


“It's 5pm. Will you just be cooking for more that one person?"


“It's 5pm. It's also Happy Hour! Would you like a drink compliment as well?

6. Handle the Unexpected Gracefully

When building a skill, you might find yourself making assumptions about what a user might say. It is incredibly important to make sure that you’re anticipating something completely outside your expected set of responses and handling it in a way that allows the user to get back on the rails.

In the Dev Tips skill, for example, we encourage developers to ask the skill about the issue or topic that they want to know more about. This also means that there will be times that a user says something we didn’t expect.

When testing how a skill handles unexpected utterances, we like to use the phrase “pizza pie.” We use this to see if the skill handles words the developer didn’t plan for, and see how the skill responds. In the case of Dev Tips, “pizza pie” will deliver a response similar to this one:

“I heard you say pizza pie. I’m sorry, I don’t know how to help you with that.”


Source: Alex skill builders guide - 10 things every Alexa skills should do


Alexa sample responses:  A user asking Alex to meal suggestions



“Alexa, give me some meal suggestions. I love Sloppy Joes.”



“Hmm, I'm not familiar with sloppy joes. Can you be more specific?

Updated Sample Dialog


Sample Dialogue 1 - User VUI and touch screen - Search for dinner

In this weeks work, I've also started exploring a new piece of software called Axure RP 8 for wireframing and flowchart creation. In the sample below, I've taken the sample dialogue for the search for dinner solution and added a number of dimensions into the flowchart that helps to describe the user's voice commands, Alexis response, as well as the user, touch commands associated with the user interface.

User flows produced in Axure RP

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