Building a Google Home Bot : From Idea to Prototype in 72 Hours

In March 2017, I had the chance to attend the Actions on Google Workshop at Google New York with two of my Stink Studios coworkers, Tim and Liz.

For three days, Google brought together creatives and technologists across various industries to learn about, build for, and explore the creative potential of the Actions on Google platform.

Actions on Google is the platform that allows designers and developers to build experiences for Google Assistant. Right now these experiences are integrated through Google Home, but in the future, they will be available through Allo, Pixel, and anything that uses Assistant. If you’re interested in building your own experiences, try starting with the official website, which has some best practices and technical documentation.

Initially, we got involved in the workshop to get a chance to learn more about the product, VUI in general, and best practices, but we ended up having a ton of fun in the process. In just three days, we brainstormed and built a dynamic prototype that used an external API.

At Stink Studios, we’ve teamed up with Spotify in the past on a few cool projects, so we were already familiar with their API. After wasting a day thinking of a concept using Instagram + Image Recognition API (we still think it could be cool, but Instagram API’s restrictions make things complicated), we came up with another cool idea: A Spotify playlist maker, since renamed Mood Mixer.

The idea

Here’s the pitch:

Imagine being stuck in the kitchen with guac all over your hands, getting dressed for a date, or those Sunday mornings when you’re too tired to get out of bed. All you want is the perfect music. Mood Mixer is a playlist assistant that creates custom and personal playlist based on your mood, as well as the artists and genres you like. Talk to Mood Mixer and tell it what you’re feeling—chill with some hip hop and Daft Punk — it’ll serve you a set of recommendations in seconds that you can either preview or save directly to your Spotify account.
If you preview the playlist, you can make edits while listening: like or remove a song, add more of a genre, even throw more artists into the mix. Mood Mixer processes what you want to hear and personalizes a perfect playlist. If you’re happy with it, save it! Give it a name and voilà your playlist is now on your Spotify account.

Mood Mixer is a dynamic and personalized experience. Because humans tend to have an emotional connection to the music we hear, creating a playlist through a conversation about your mood, or artists and genres you like, rather than a classic GUI, seems like a more intuitive process than using text inputs and drop downs. Obviously, having visual feedback would be nice, but hey, we’ll get there in another article ;)

The team was perfect: Liz focused on the personas and conversation design, Tim worked on the Spotify API using Node JS, and I made conversation between the two and asked the Google guys stupid questions.

Let’s do it!

This was a team effort, so let’s hear from the team about what their experience was like.