We’ve been sworn to secrecy until today, but we can now announce that we’ve been working with Amazon for the last few weeks on an exciting project. They’re launching their voice-controlled ‘smart speaker’ in the UK shortly (it’s called the Amazon Echo), and it’ll have Radioplayer in it when it does.
This means that all 465 UK Radioplayer stations will appear in the new ‘skill’ (that’s what Amazon call their apps for the device). We’ve kept it simple to start with – listeners can ask for a station by name, or ask for one to be recommended (based on location, what’s trending right now, and what they last listened to).
It’s been a fascinating project, involving us repeating 465 station names into the device, in a variety of UK accents, in order to help it recognise and pronounce them all. We’ve actually had to create a unique database of phonetic pronunciations for all our station names, in order to make sure every station is recognised properly. But we think it’s worth the effort, as it’s taught us a huge amount about designing voice-powered interfaces (it’s actually much harder than it seems).
Increasingly, voice recognition and voice feedback are appearing in all sorts of devices, from smartphones to car dashboards. We need to make sure Radio’s ready to work in these interfaces, so we believe it’s worth us doing this kind of research and development through Radioplayer.
Here’s the press release, and we’ll post more information as it’s available.