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AKQA / Bedtime Story Sounds

by Contagious I/O

This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our intelligence tool featuring the most creative and effective ideas in marketing from around the world

Voice-powered storytelling app personalises a wintry tale

Just in time for the holidays, London-based agency AKQA has created a digital storybook for kids activated by the reader’s voice. The Snow Fox, available as a free app on phones with iOS 10, tells the story of a young child on an adventure in the forest with a newfound furry friend.

Upon launching the app, kids (or their parents) can personalise the experience by typing their name and selecting their gender, which then affects the words in the story.

Powered by SiriKit – Apple’s system that allows people to control apps using their voice – The Snow Fox story unfolds as users read aloud. When a reader finishes saying a sentence, the app automatically transitions to the next scene. At the end of The Snow Fox, children can create a short video of their narration to share with family and friends.

Readers also have the option to experience the story by transitioning from scene to scene by simply swiping the screen.

The agency plans to add more features in the future in order to make the app appropriate for any season.


Contagious Insight / 

Forming habits / Voice-recognition systems have significantly improved in recent years. For example, Google claims that its voice recognition tools are currently 92% accurate; Apple rates Siri at 95% while Chinese search engine Baidu claims to have a 96% accuracy rate. Andrew Ng – chief scientist at Chinese search engine giant Baidu – believes that once the accuracy reaches 99%, voice recognition software will reach mainstream adoption. ‘A lot of people underestimate the difference between 95% and 99% accuracy in speech recognition. 99% voice recognition is a game-changer,’ said Ng in a recent lecture at Singularity University. ‘It’s the difference between you hardly using it and using it all the time without thinking about it.’

As he explains voice-recognition becomes more reliable, talking to our devices will become a more natural behaviour. In AKQA’s case, this means highlighting the potential of voice-based interactions to youngsters by making their reading experience more seamless and interactive.

Creative sounds / Earlier this year Warner Bros. Pictures partnered with Google to promote the J.K. Rowling movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by enabling the voice assistant on Android phones to recognise the most commonly used spells from the Harry Potter universe. For example, ‘Lumos’ turned on the phone’s torch and ‘Silencio’ switched it on silent mode.

Both this example above and The Snow Fox project show that voice recognition technology can be fun as well as functional. As AKQA said in a statement, ‘most apps use this technology in a more traditional way by just opening up the app and booking something (e.g. ‘Can I get an Uber?’).’ But the experience shows how voice can be used for creative and entertaining purposes, rather than just giving a command.



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