Netherlands World Wildlife Fund Launches Google Assistant Action for Kids

The World Wildlife Fund of the Netherlands has launched a Google Assistant Action aimed at raising awareness and interest in the WWF and environmental conservation. The new voice app offers a mix of stories, trivia, and related games as the number of homes with voice assistants continue to rise.

WWF Rangers

The new Google Action was built by the Netherlands WWF and AnimalVoice.io to combine education and entertainment on the subject of nature and wildlife =. The app contains three kinds of experiences, centered on a wildlife quiz for up to four people using several hundred facts as well as audio recordings of endangered animals. There’s also a daily question that the users will receive, often based on current events. The final piece is a collection of funny short stories about animals read by famous Dutch people. The readers include TV presenters, actors, and even astronaut André Kuipers, whose tale explains what you should do if you sit on a sea turtle.

The app has only been out for a short time and the WWF hasn’t released the number of users total yet, but the voice app recently reached number two in the game rankings for Google Assistant Actions. Those trying the app do seem to enjoy it, with an average of 1.7 conversations a day per user and eight interactions in every conversation. WWF Netherlands is always looking for innovative ways to share stories about nature, the environment and their work to protect the Earth, digital lead Paul Zevenboom explained to Vocicbot. The Google Assistant Action furthers that cause in the increasingly popular world of voice apps. The app is for all ages, but is more aimed at children, encouraging them to be junior WWF Rangers.

“Children get engaged by wildlife and WWF in the short term, and in the long term hopefully start supporting it,” Menno Zevenbergen, product lead for AnimalVoice.io and head of conversation for the Greenhouse Group told Voicebot in an interview. “One of the most important insights was that families are voice power users. And young kids mainly ask for animal sounds, games and stories.”

Dutch Talk

The decision to create a voice app for Google Assistant was a matter of practicality as much as choice, Zevenboom and Zevenbergen said. Google Assistant speaks Dutch and is widely used in the country, while Alexa doesn’t speak Dutch and Alexa Voice Service only gained Dutch localization late last year when Amazon started selling English-only Echo smart speakers in the country.

“Amazon Alexa is not available in the Dutch language,” Zevenbergen explained. “Children, especially the younger ones, do not speak English yet.”

Apple’s Siri voice assistant can speak Dutch but Apple HomePods are far rarer than Google smart speakers. One in 20 Dutch households had a Google smart speaker less than five months after they began shipping in October of 2018, just a couple of months after the voice assistant added Dutch language support. For a voice app aimed at children, that makes Google Assistant a no-brainer for development, though other platforms and languages are certainly a possibility should the new voice app continue to flourish.

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