How Wecast.ai Turns Alexa and Google Assistant into Personal Voice Blogs
Voice tech startup NextNest has created a platform for anyone to build their voice broadcasts through Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa voice assistants. The platform, named Wecast.ai, allows users to quickly set up a kind of voice-based blog on whatever topic they are interested in, updatable any time by typing into the platform.
Wecast offers a streamlined way to build and update a voice app that uses Alexa and Google Assistant to say whatever the user wants. When people sign up, they get a writing board to share what they want to say. Those words are then automatically translated to an API for the Wecast Alexa skill and Google action and submitted through Wecast for approval by Google and Amazon. Once it is set up, users can update the board whenever they wish. People can then call up the voice blog by name, asking Alexa or Google Assistant to open “John’s TV Reviews,” for instance, and hear the latest update and previous posts.
“Siri, Alexa, and Google Home were sort of English conversation tutors for me,” NextNest CEO Sam Seo told Voicebot. “I loved and used them so much, but I realized that [the voice assistants couldn’t share] anything interesting or any new information. For example, if I ask about my sports teams, they only tell you the result and scores, which I already know.”
Seo, who graduated from NYU in 2013 before moving back to Seoul, wanted to create a way for people to share their own opinions and curate news to their own interests, much like the early days of blogging did for online news. And, much like those days of LiveJournal and Blogspot, he wanted to make it simple enough that no coding or other technical knowledge would be necessary.
“I thought there should be easy ways to make voice apps for people,” Seo said. I am not a software engineer, but I’m not that unfamiliar with the tech. However, there was no solution that can make voice apps [with updates] I can post and make smart speakers say what I wrote. Alexa Skill Blueprints has some [options], but those only work for those devices. So I wanted to build a totally coding-free service.”
After experimenting with some Alexa and Google Assistant features, he decided to design his product for both platforms. Since the beta testing began a little over a month ago, Wecast has signed on people who offer meditation guides, movie reviews, Kpop news, and promotional material for YouTube videos, along with more personal broadcasts for those who want to share about their own lives. Seo said more than 80 voice apps are using Wecast that anyone can pull up, with more getting added all the time. Wecast also offers a premium service with more customization options.
Wecast is notably straightforward to set up but is not unique for offering personalized broadcasts. Flash briefings and other short broadcasts on Alexa and Google Assistant can be set up through individual voice apps, or through platforms like Witlingo. Witlingo offers a broader array of branded voice app creation, but short audio updates through its Castlingo tool are a central part of its offerings. Its voice apps are also compatible with multiple voice assistant platforms and include the BuildLingo Community feature that lets people make audio comments to audio posts.
Wecast is still very young, but Seo said he has big ambitions for the startup. The company is working on a funding round to expand the range of features, including designing an algorithm to categorize posts by their emotional sentiment and making a way to shift between Wecast voice apps with similar content that users might enjoy.