The war between Amazon and Google when it comes to their artificially intelligent helpers is heating up, and Amazon is the latest to make a move. On Friday, March 2, the Seattle-based tech giant announced the new Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) sound library, which gives developers built-in audio clips that can be added to Alexa skills. Per the company’s developer blog post, “The ASK sound library makes it easy for you to create an engaging customer experience by adding unique sounds to your skill.”
In total, the new library grants developers access to “hundreds of sounds from 14 categories,” so whether you need something from the cartoon world, the home realm, or something having to do with human, nature, or transportation, you can find an appropriate sound effect. All of these sounds can be added to any Alexa response, and can also be combined with speech output and other SSML (or speech synthesis markup language).
The idea behind adding sounds, Amazon notes, is to help developers create experiences that are more personalized or relevant to a particular skill. For starters, you could add an applause soundtrack if a user correctly answers a question in a trivia game or finishes his or her workout, or you could add the sound of a door opening anytime Alexa is commanded to unlock the front door. Best of all, all these sounds from the ASK sound library can be added entirely free of charge to any Alexa skill.
In order for developers to take advantage of these auditory features, they need to include the SSML audio tag in your response. Each sound effect’s SSML is shown in the appropriate column of the sound table. Hopefully, this latest addition will encourage more folks to begin developing with Alexa — and if not, there’s always the Amazon rewards program. Every month, the company awards developers with cash if they create the skill that drives the highest customer engagement. Plus, developers can earn more by building more skills or making existing skills available across the world.
So if you’re looking to try your hand at creating something new, you may want to start with Alexa and her new sound library.
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