Book Image

Voice User Interface Projects

By : Henry Lee
Book Image

Voice User Interface Projects

By: Henry Lee

Overview of this book

From touchscreen and mouse-click, we are moving to voice- and conversation-based user interfaces. By adopting Voice User Interfaces (VUIs), you can create a more compelling and engaging experience for your users. Voice User Interface Projects teaches you how to develop voice-enabled applications for desktop, mobile, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This book explains in detail VUI and its importance, basic design principles of VUI, fundamentals of conversation, and the different voice-enabled applications available in the market. You will learn how to build your first voice-enabled application by utilizing DialogFlow and Alexa’s natural language processing (NLP) platform. Once you are comfortable with building voice-enabled applications, you will understand how to dynamically process and respond to the questions by using NodeJS server deployed to the cloud. You will then move on to securing NodeJS RESTful API for DialogFlow and Alexa webhooks, creating unit tests and building voice-enabled podcasts for cars. Last but not the least you will discover advanced topics such as handling sessions, creating custom intents, and extending built-in intents in order to build conversational VUIs that will help engage the users. By the end of the book, you will have grasped a thorough knowledge of how to design and develop interactive VUIs.
Table of Contents (12 chapters)

Voice-enabled applications

This section discusses the voice-enabled devices that are available today. These include home assistant devices such as the Amazon Echo, and Google Home, which can integrate with other voice-activated home appliances such as lights, garages, thermostats, televisions, stereo systems, and more. Finally, this section will also cover voice-enabled virtual car assistants.

Home assistant devices

These home assistant devices are literally invading homes today. Home assistant devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home can control security cameras, the dishwasher, dryers, lights, power outlets, switches, door locks, and thermostats. For example, Amazon Echo and Google Home can turn lights on and off, control air conditioning and heating, and open and close garage doors.

There are three assistant devices from Amazon—Echo Plus (, Echo (, and Echo Dot ( as follows. All three Amazon Echos have features such as set alarm, play music, search online, call Uber, order pizza, and integrate with other home assistant devices, such as WeMo, TP-Link, Sony, Insteon, ecobee, and others.

The only difference between Amazon Echo and Echo Plus is that Amazon Echo Plus has a built-in home assistant hub that allows the other home assistant devices to connect directly to Echo Plus without needing a hub. For Amazon Echo and Echo Dot, you would need to purchase a hub, such as Samsung's SmartThings Smart Home Hub ($73.49,, in order to control other home assistant appliances.

The following photo shows a Smart Home device controlling home appliances:

Smart Home Hub

In the Amazon Echo family, there are two devices that come with a screen, which can be used to display pictures, a clock, and play videos: Amazon Echo Show ($149.00, and Spot ($129.00, Similarly, many of the home assistant devices that integrate with Amazon Echo can also be integrated and controlled through Google Home ($79.00,, shown as follows. Many of these devices can be found on the Google support page at

Google Home is shown here:

Google Home

Automobile virtual assistant devices

Nowadays, almost every car's dashboard comes with a voice recognition system, which enables drivers to control music volumes, change radio stations, add Bluetooth devices, turn inside lights on and off, and more. Since Microsoft Sync introduced the VUI in Ford cars in 2007, there has not been much technological advancement. In 2007, Microsoft Sync was ahead of the times, introducing the first of its kind voice-enabled features in cars, but designing VUIs for Ford had some challenges. First, there was the noise factor while driving at high speed, which hindered the driver's voice from being recognized. Second, being able to upgrade required bringing the car in to a dealer. Third, the car operating system was usually proprietary, hence it was difficult to write programs to introduce new features or enhance existing features.

In 2017, many challenges faced by Microsoft Sync were eliminated. Many cars had more soundproof bodies, which eliminated many of the road noises. Tesla has shown us that, with the right design, a car's system software can be upgraded via Wi-Fi, and many manufacturers have begun to allow car systems to be remotely upgraded. In 2018, many manufacturers began to integrate Google Auto and Apple CarPlay by taking advantage of the Android and iOS operating systems, which have proven track records in the mobile space. Also, car manufacturers taking advantage of Android and iOS brings entire ecosystems of developers together, who can bring innovation by developing voice-enabled applications for cars. For example, there is a project on GitHub ( that integrates the Tesla API into Google Home and into mobile devices via Google Assistant, which allows you to check the battery charge level, door status, flash the lights, and honk the horn. Just as developers have brought innovations through applications in the Android and iOS marketplaces, you will see a huge surge in voice-enabled applications in the Google Auto and Apple CarPlay marketplaces. Besides car manufacturers, in 2018, you will begin to see many car stereo manufacturers, such as Pioneer, Alpine, JVC, Kenwood, Sony, and others, begin to support Google Auto as well.


Chatbots have been around for a long time, since the days of internet relay chat (IRC), the popular chat room. Back then, chatbots were used by the chatroom owner to send commands to kick users out, ban users, promote products, provide news news updates, and add more chat room members. However, now, with NLP, chatbots are more than just text-based and are becoming very popular with companies for promoting their products and providing support for them and frequently asked questions (FAQs).

The following screenshot shows a chatbot by Patrón on Twitter:

Patrón Twitter chatbot

Converting existing text-based chat into voice-enabled chat is simple because text-based chats are designed to answer the user's questions. In Chapter 2, Building an FAQs Chatbot, the chatbot will be used to demonstrate the basic functionalities of the NLP platform, and you will learn how to create a chatbot's VUIs. The chat you will create in Chapter 2, Building an FAQs Chatbot, can be used on mobile through Google Assistant or integrated into an existing mobile application.