You don't meet many voice developers with a master's degree in biochemistry, much less a certification in art instruction. Einat Laudon, founder of Chatty Creations, has both. She also has big plans: "My ultimate goal is focused on creative immersive experiences that combine voice and screens or animation—even augmented reality—to create the ability to have a real-seeming conversation with a fictional character." As a contracting Voice UI designer for Mobiquity, she's had a chance to hone her storytelling and design skills over the last year creating voice apps for major brands, and has lately been expanding her talents by exploring other platforms like Bixby.
Meet Einat Laudon, founder of Chatty Creations and Bixby Premier Developer
Her first foray into Bixby was The Muffin Man, an interactive children's song you can access through voice assistants. The Muffin Man starts by introducing kids to the singer, Megan Schoenbohm, and as the song progresses, they're given choices about new characters to meet—a dog, a cat, or even a dragon. By talking to Megan, the kids can control how the song goes. The Muffin Man became quite popular, and when the Bixby team contacted Einat about adapting one of her apps into a capsule, it was an easy first choice for her. The Muffin Man went onto be a finalist in the Publishing/Storytelling Voice Experience of the Year at 2020's Project Voice Awards.
"When I discovered voice technology, it was like magic to be able to talk to a computer and control it," Einat recalls. "Getting to write what voice assistants are saying is fun. It's a creative process, but it also involves a lot of logic and planning and flows; this is a great combination for me." Einat had been working in Alexa for nearly two years before Bixby came knocking, and she quickly realized it would be a great chance to be involved in a prominent voice platform from its beginning.
The Muffin Man songs are performed by musician Megan Schoenbohm
For her Alexa work, Einat had been using a code-free application called Voiceflow to design and develop her apps. Adapting The Muffin Man to Bixby meant more coding knowledge would be needed, so she turned to Stuart Pocklington of SoapVox for a little help. "Bixby was on my to-do list of things to get into," Stuart says. "It was a great opportunity, so I jumped at the challenge." He read documentation, watched videos from the Bixby Developers channel (a strategy he highly endorses, for any readers wondering where to start), and installed the Bixby Developer Studio straightaway to get a feel for how it worked.
"If you reach out and ask for help, you've got it, and if you get stuck, you can also get tips from other BPDP developers who are creating their own capsules,"
Stuart says he gets a lot out of the Bixby Premier Developer Program (BPDP), especially in the form of one-on-one support. "If you reach out and ask for help, you've got it, and if you get stuck, you can also get tips from other BPDP developers who are creating their own capsules," he explains. "Everyone's really open. They're good at bouncing ideas around and helping each other out! I find that very useful."
According to Stuart, this kind of collaboration is becoming more common by the day. As the level of design and development increases across all platforms, so too does the quality of voice games and skills. He says it feels like the early days of videogames on the Commodore 64 or ZX Spectrum and the indie game companies that started to form. "You'll start to see people developing on their own struggling to compete in the market because teams of people are getting together with different strengths and skills: voice design, coding, development, graphic design. It's getting more mature all the time, and the things you can do are getting better and better. Every time you create something, you push the boundaries and try to do something better. As the experiences improve, more users are getting involved."
"Now people are more creative and getting better at collaborating with other people who have different strengths."
Einat agrees. From where the industry was two years ago to now, it's clear to her that designers and developers are expected to create more highly polished experiences: "Now people are more creative and getting better at collaborating with other people who have different strengths."
Not that Einat's standing still, either. As Bixby expands to other devices, she'll be watching with interest, especially TV and other markets as they become available. "I'm interested in multi-modal experiences," she says. "A TV would be a great device to interact with." In the meantime, she's looking forward to creating more capsules and seeing how the Bixby platform continues to evolve. Especially now: "In this difficult time," Einat muses, "people are staying at home more, and people at high risk are staying home for even longer. If we can make innovative ways to entertain them, it might help with mood issues. Games and any interactive entertainment are good methods of escapism."