Word of the Day: Duden
Words. They carry ideas, share emotion, and start conversations.
We love words at VUI. Words are a beautiful thing. And what could be more beautiful than learning a new one, every day?
Bringing you a fun break from your daily routine, courtesy of renowned German publishing house Duden: Word of the Day.
Alexa, was ist das Wort des Tages?
Alexa, öffne Duden.
Alexa, Was ist meine tägliche Zusammenfassung?
Join tens of thousands of people across the DACH region in discovering new and interesting German words, using the simple Golden Utterance, "Alexa, sag mir das Wort des Tages" (Alexa, tell me the word of the day) to get into it.
It’s a great, quick addition to your morning routine, or just to give you a little break during the afternoon—enjoy fun facts, entertainment and expand your knowledge!
And it takes less than a minute!
What we did
Working with Duden, specialists in dictionaries and non-fiction books, we created a voice application, that soon became an Amazon native skill.
It’s a great example of an entry-level voice project for companies looking to get into the voice market with a simple use case: they have a steady and loyal user base with good retention rates.
One of the goals of Duden’s voice skill was to increase their reach, in addition to their social media channel presence —a straightforward example of how existing and potential new customers alike can interact with a brand on voice platforms.
Customized TTS excellence for Alexa apps
Our voice consulting expertise for this project ranged from use case ideation and implementation to TTS (Text-to-Speech) tuning and in-depth phonetics-including tuning, and sound alignment for a consistent and engaging overall voice sound.
As Duden is famous for their expertise in words and language, a correct pronunciation through the Alexa TTS within the Duden skill was of utmost importance. To do so, we apply the phonetic alphabet to Alexa’s word pronunciation. This way, we ensure correct pronunciation and keep the meaning, even for non-German words.
Due to the fine-tuning we put into this voice skill, you can hear the voice has a humorous note. We also call this ‘VUI’s charismatic touch’, where the voice pitch goes higher.
Due to the fine-tuning we put into this voice skill, you can hear the voice has a humorous note. We also call this ‘VUI’s charismatic touch’, where the voice pitch goes higherTop priorities for this project were easy implementation, and a focus on Duden’s internal team training and skill maintenance. Therefore, we focused on integrating an easy-to-use content management system for the daily skill so the Duden team could edit and manage it independently.
We acted as a reliable source of knowledge for Duden’s team, from everything involving TTS, content management systems (CMS), and repurposing existing content, capacity and knowledge, to transferring skills and reaching new people.
We helped the client’s team implement the content, enabling them to test it in the voice market with little risk-adapting it to the voice space without just copying it.
In doing so, Duden’s ‘Word of the Day’ voice skill earned the Golden Utterance on Alexa – letting user open it directly with a simplified user interaction “Alexa, was ist das Wort des Tages” (‘Alexa, what is the word of the day’).
Our role in the project
We kicked off this voice project with an ideation workshop. At this conceptual stage of the project, we discussed several possible use cases for the Alexa skill we would develop with the client.
During the workshop, we chose the most appropriate use case connected to the brand values and business objectives of Duden. At this project phase, we usually introduce the client to our voice design process.
Voice and Text-to-Speech (TTS) Consulting
From TTS to in-depth phonetics—including tuning and sound alignment – we consistently contributed to Alexa’s correct word pronunciation while ensuring all the words kept their meaning, including non-German ones.
We focused on prosody pitch for the whole word, and break times when listeners might need a break for better speech recognition and understanding. Alexa’s linguistic training included how to pronounce words correctly in German, due to Alexa’s lack of specialised vocabulary as a default (e.g. dialects, special accents).
Our team of experts used the phonetic alphabet called ‘Ipaz’, giving every sound the correct corresponding sound so that Alexa could pronounce the word correctly (like the word ‘sormisations’!) We also used Ume, for German dialects, telling Alexa what words sound like, as there are over 16 large German dialectical groups that need to be specified precisely.
Using the Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML), an XML-based markup language for speech synthesis applications, we trained Alexa in everything from how to pronounce words in French, to using the Ipaz phonetic alphabet, all in order to keep the dialog undisrupted.
Teaching Alexa where to focus on interjections and nuances of intent was another essential stage, allowing the interaction to be more fluid, engaging, and focused on the text. On top of that, adding a touch of humour by raising the pitch of the TTS voice meant users would not get annoyed by Alexa’s pronunciation and could remember better the word of the day.
Our sound specialists make sure that even with straight forward voice skills, the sounds match the brand and enhance the user’s experience.
Monthly reporting and analytics
We are constantly trying to improve the performance of the voice skill by analysing and interpreting the monthly reporting and analytics. This way our customers can be reassured that the voice skill is working within set parameters and providing a quality interaction for the user.