Sounding Board is the winning socialbot in the Alexa Prize, an Amazon competition to further conversational artificial intelligence. Our socialbot's approach focuses on finding interesting content to talk about with the users, while trying to understand who the user is.
Starting out with 15 teams competing for the semi-finals, we were selected as one of three finalists based on customer experience. During the finals, expert conversationalists interacted with Sounding Board while judges observed. Our bot won the competition, scoring a 3.17 on a 5-point scale and had an average conversation length of 10:22, compared to 2.72 - 2.36 scores and durations of 3:55 - 4:01 for the other two finalists.
To try it out, simple tell your Amazon Echo: "Let's chat!"
Sounding Board is built on top of the Alexa Skills Kit powered by Echo devices, and most of the computation is done in the cloud.
At each talk turn, the Echo device sends the recognized text to our cloud system. There, our algorithm decides how to take the conversation further through a two-tiered dialogue manager. Based on what the user said, we may query our databases for recent news or interesting facts about a certain topic. Once ready, our system generates a response combining natural dialogue markers with queried news or facts. The response is then sent back to the Echo device where it is turned into audio signal.
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KOMO News (ABC) - Matt Markovich, UW team finalist for $1 million prize to hold 20-minute conversation with Amazon's Alexa November 20, 2017
GeekWire - Taylor Soper, Amazon reveals 3 university finalists for $2.5M Alexa Prize — including one from Univ. of Washington August 29, 2017