RAIN Powers Headspace’s Webby Award-Winning Alexa Skill

The Headspace Alexa Skill recently took home the 2019 People’s Voice and Webby Award in the category of Apps, Mobile and Voice - Health, Fitness & Lifestyle.

Steven Hansen
Chief Technology Officer

RAIN is proud to have partnered with Headspace on their Alexa Skill, which recently took home the 2019 People’s Voice and Webby Award in the category of Apps, Mobile and Voice – Health, Fitness & Lifestyle.

Headspace has been a pioneer in using voice technology to further its ambition to help people live healthier, happier, more well-rested lives. With an eye toward making their meditation content available to their users wherever and however possible, Headspace sought to bring their product to not one, but three, digital assistants.

Leveraging VOXA, our unique cross-platform conversation design and development framework, RAIN worked with Headspace to deliver its product seamlessly to users of Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Microsoft Cortana.

Here’s an inside look at how VOXA enables this best-in-class cross-platform experience for Headspace, and how other brands can benefit from employing the VOXA framework to power their conversational presence with efficiency and scale.

An Engine for Seamless Cross-Platform Voice Experiences

Using a single back-end code repository, VOXA delivers cross-platform benefits across four key dimensions – experience capabilities, content management, interaction model, and development efficiency.

Cross-Platform Experience Capabilities

CONSISTENT BRAND TONE: All of the responses for the three platforms are managed using the same tool and same format, and often the platforms share the same responses. This allows the writers to keep the brand’s tone consistent across the various platforms. There is also consistency of interaction model across platforms, ensuring users are not bombarded with jarring prompts, for example, after finishing a calming meditation.

FLUID SESSIONS: Because many users link their account, we are able to provide cross-platform user experiences. That means if a user completes a meditation from their queue on Alexa they can do the next on Google Assistant or Cortana. A user’s progress is synced across all channels – web, mobile, and voice.

SCREEN ENABLEMENT: When we built Headspace on Alexa, the service already had some screen features with the Echo Show, so when Google announced they were releasing a visual device for Google Assistant, we already had a game plan on the right content to display.

Cross-Platform Content Management

SINGLE CONTENT EDITOR: A single Headspace voice experience includes about 500 responses and reprompts. The shared editor helps manage the discrete pieces of content and shares them so only those have to be managed instead of tripling that work to manage it across all three platforms.

DATA: The user session data is kept in a shared database between each platform. Developers only need to build and maintain that single database structure. Further, analytics is aggregated in a single analytics portal so usage can be easily compared between the voice platforms. With insights gleaned based on usage and trends that occur on one platform, VOXA allows us to improve on all of the platforms.

Cross-Platform Interaction Model

UTTERANCE VARIATIONS: Although each assistant uses a different NLP, most of the intents across the three platforms are the same, the language training model is managed in a central tool allowing us to provide the same training data to all three platforms simultaneously.

ENTITY RESOLUTION: The Headspace experience needs to understand what a sleep exercise means and help users when they ask for a specific pack. This deeper layer of understanding isn’t mapped at the platform NLP layer, but is understood by VOXA and is shared across platforms.

NAME FREE INVOCATIONS: All three platforms have different approaches to how users discover and enable the voice apps, building with VOXA makes it trivial to support each of the platforms unique methods such as CanHandleRequests on Alexa and built-in intents on Google Assistant.

Cross-Platform Development Efficiency

AUTOMATED DEPLOYMENTS: The VOXA Command Line Interface allows the tech team to deploy all aspects of the voice experience with an automated process. This includes the code to a hosting environment and the skill and action configurations in each of the developer portals.

API INTEGRATION: The Headspace voice experience is closely coupled with a private Headspace API that provides access meditations, meditation packs, user’s account status, and other data.

MAINTENANCE: The VOXA backend is built in node.js in a single code repository. Developers only have to understand how that single state machine is built and they can make updates to any of the 3 platforms. It decreases the amount of platform-specific training needed by developers.

UNIT TESTING: VOXA provides a unit testing framework so the full conversation can be tested automatically both before deploying new code and for ongoing health checks.

Get in touch ( to learn more about how your brand can take advantage of a cross-platform voice presence powered by VOXA.

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