In any great app, game, or movie, it is important that the sound effects support the experience. Whether it’s scary music leading up to an intense boss battle, a mimicable grunt, or a characterizing catch phrase, sound effects are an enriching and sometimes crucial add-on to any interactive experience.
The same is true for building a standout voice experience; sound effects can enhance your skill to create an engaging and delightful voice-first interaction. With voice, customers don’t have the barrier of what appears on-screen. Instead, they can use their own imagination and creativity to paint a picture based on how they are interacting with the skill through sound and voice.
We recently announced the Alexa Skills Kit Sound Library to give developers a set of sound effects they can use within their skills. The sound library provides hundreds of sounds from 14 categories, including cartoon, home, human, nature, and transportation, among others. Similar to how you can use speechcons to enable Alexa to pronounce words more expressively, using built-in audio clips gives your skills even more variety beyond Alexa’s voice.
Integrating Sounds into Your Alexa Skill
To make incorporating sound effects into your skill response as simple as possible, the sound effects are intuitively named and hosted on AWS S3 as audio files converted to an Alexa-friendly format. With that in mind, integrating sound effects is exactly like integrating audio into your response. All you have to do is use the S3 URL in a SSML audio tag.
Maintaining a Conversational Pace with Sounds
Even when incorporating sounds into your skill, it’s important to remember the one-breath test, which emphasizes the importance of conversational pace. Alexa’s response to a user should be able to be read aloud with one breath. Relying too much on sound effects could become a distraction to the user, so much that the user glosses over what Alexa is saying or can’t follow along in the interaction.
Before publishing a skill with sound effects, be sure to listen to every incorporated aspect to be sure it is instinctual and flows with the dialog via the ASK developer console or on your Echo device.
Examples of Sound in Voice Design
Now that it is so easy to incorporate these flourishes into your skill’s response, it is important to remember to use control. As with any addition, sound effects enhance your voice experience. A customer should still know how to respond to Alexa at all times. Sound effects should not act as a replacement to a prompt if you are expecting dialog to continue.
That being said, they can be used to replace pieces of your responses. For example, if in your skill Alexa says, “someone walked in,” you could use Human Walking (1) alongside or in its place.
Sound effects can also be used as indications of wins or fails. You could use Large Crowd Cheer (3) for when a customer answers a question correctly, or Crowd Boo (2) when they make the incorrect choice.
Ultimately, the potential use cases for sounds effects are limitless. They can add flavor and color to any response. Check out the full library of sounds so start adding audio clips to your skills.
Along with the ASK sound library, here are more resources to help you enhance your Alexa skills to create more engaging voice-first experiences:
- Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) Reference
- Alexa Skill Recipe: Randomize Your Responses to Add Variety to Your Skill
- How to Use Phonemes to Change Alexa’s Pronunciation
- How to Maintain an Engaging Voice-First Experience Using Third-Party APIs
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Source: Alexa Developer Blog