Have Alexa pause during a conversation to allow user to think
Have Alexa pause when user needs time to think about a response/answer.
User can say: "wait" or "pause" or "one sec"
System will flash orange ring until user says: "OK"
Conversation flow resumes.
Allow for the user to talk for a longer period of time, and allow brief pauses.
I know these two issues have been previously raised separately. My goal is to provide another use case covering both and remind Alexa team of the relevance of these feature requests.
I've recently published my skill called "Run My Lines", allowing actors to learn their lines using Alexa (https://runlines.me/). I've promoted it on several internet forum visited by actors, including Reddit and Mandy (see links below), and received very positive feedback.
However I am also aware of some critical limitations of Alexa around user input, which prevent it from being fully useful. This includes:
- allowing users to have a pause between sentences (Alexa thinks it's over after a very brief pause),
- allowing users to speak for a longer amount of time (I believe there's a limit of 8 seconds or so?)
Due to current limitations the skill is unfortunately limited in its practicality, as most lines will be longer than a few seconds and contain several sentences (hence short pauses).
I want to use this for slicing and dicing data with Python! So if I want to get some data and plot it, followed by other actions, I want to be able to send voice commands with some pause in between. So I want Alexa to be on and focussed without having to say "Alexa, blah blah..." each time.At least till I tell it to switch off :D
The follow on mode of just 15 seconds does not work for this, I could be thinking for a min or more. So it should be configurable - maybe upto 5 mins?
William R. Woodburn commented
Excellent idea - it would be quite useful when formulating questions.
Vojtech Vit commented
I'm not a native English speaker and it takes me longer to think about the command I'm going to say. As such, I often find the follow up mode unusable for me because Alexa stops listening sooner than I manage to formulate the next command in my head. It's also often a bit unclear when does Alexa start listening (in Follow Up) and when does it stop so I easily end up in ridiculous command-repeating situations.
Making this listening time configurable would allow me to extend this duration while keeping it the same for quicker speakers.
Steven Goodwin commented
Additionally, I'd like the skill to be able to dictate this. I currently have a problem where the app version of Alexa resolves the listen() method within 1 second (instead of the 8 second wait for a hardware device). The user is not able to make a reasoned reply in this time.
Good for cognitive accessibility
Kuba Kath Jasko commented
Even if you add an extra session end (true, false or pause)
and have to add resume speech parameters.
It could even end the conversation completely, and if the user's next request to that machine matches the resume parameter, pick up where you left off.
And just talk slower too. Adjustable speed would be of much help to older users, those hard of hearing, kids, and just tired people.
Ken Reiss commented
This is a very important element of a "real", practical, and respectful user interface. Imagine a computer screen offering an option to the user, then taking it away if they don't decide within 8 seconds!
Or, if they take 2 tries correcting what "the computer misunderstood" (from the users point of view), then she just hangs up on you, instead of giving you unlimited opportunities.
This is REALLY important!!
Gregory Novak commented
I think a pause handler is a good idea or at least a way to increase the timeout like we can on the Lambda function.
SELINA Almirantes commented
Pelouas Guillaume commented
Really it would be a great thing!
I'm currently developing a skill implying long conversations with Alexa and some réflexions.
Being able to pause the skill because we are interrupted, or because we need to think would be great.
I would think to two new special handlers: PauseHandler (to define behavior just before going to pause), and RestoreHandler (behavior when relaunching a paused skill, to remind the user the status or the question for instance before continuing).
Kevin Prunty commented
Excellent idea. With some skills I've messed around with in and out of development, I've needed a couple extra seconds to think.
Simple example: The well known Jeopardy skill and other trivia skills. It gets a bit distracting to have Alexa's reprompt/timeout happen when I'm trying to think of an answer, so being able to say "hey Alexa wait a sec" would take care of that.
Or sometimes, people might open a skill (without any intent initially) and need some time to think about why exactly they opened it. In a perfect world, people might think about it before opening every single time without fail, but sometimes, at least in my experience, people will open a skill because they know they need something from it, but haven't exactly worded it in their head what they want. I've had a good laugh a couple times hearing someone go "Uh........" after loading it and having alexa interrupt their thought process because of the timeout. Haha.