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Alexa gains conversational skill with ‘The Grand Tour’ and you’re invited

There’s more going on behind the scenes than you might expect with Amazon Prime Video’s The Grand Tour series, and you can take part. You can activate Alexa’s The Grand Tour skill to take weekly trivia quizzes based on that week’s episode and to access additional content including interactive conversations with the show’s three stars, as reported on Amazon’s developer blog.

The Grand Tour Alexa skill was developed by Pullstring, a company founded in 2011 specifically to create conversational experiences between audiences and characters on film or television. “We believe conversational AI needs a personality. And personality cannot be algorithmically derived. The Grand Tour skill is a great example of a conversational AI with not one but three great personalities. This is what gives fans the best experience,” said PullString CEO Oren Jacob.

More: Richard Hammond explains how ‘The Grand Tour’ is like ‘Top Gear,’ and how it’s different

To create The Grand Tour Alexa skill, PullString and Amazon Prime Video had the show’s actors record dialog and phrases. With those recordings, the PullString’s Danielle Frimer, a creative writer, used the company’s development platform to build conversational experiences for audience interaction. “I am not a developer in any way,” says Frimer. “With the platform, I could focus my attention on the creative aspects of it — the lines, the flow of things, the overall design — not on the underlying nuts and bolts of it.”

The PullString Platform is now available to developers who want to build their own Alexa skills with conversational experiences. The PullString team built the development tool with creatives in mind so users could focus on conversation, not necessarily on programming code. “We made a conscious decision to use the lexicon of human conversation, not programming and code,” said Lucas Ives, a PullString lead engineer.

“We’re excited that developers can now build their own Alexa skills with PullString,” Oren said. “Our platform offers a complete and comprehensive professional toolkit that lets you craft conversational experiences even if you’re not a developer. The platform is the most powerful and easiest to use tool for the creation of computer conversations.”