Earthday 2018 Deals: Voicefirst, IoT, Environmental Impact and Takeaways for Retailers

Why is voicefirst exciting? Beyond the enhanced immersion and engagement, voicefirst is also opening up opportunities “to do better”. One area where this impact is most felt is the energy conservation and environmental impact.

Voicefirst is a mechanism to control services. Whether is turning down the thermostat, controlling the blinds, managing the oven or lighting up the room, not only does voice give you control, but it also allows you to automate these features. On their own, these features might not do much for the environment, but when millions of people optimize their energy consumption across devices, the impact can be significant.

Sunday, April 22nd is earth day, and many companies are playing their part by offering deals on products: offers on Echo, Echo Show and Echo Dots has 20% off on Echo devices, with the Echo Dot available for $28.85, the EchoShow at $124.15 and the Echo at $67.  You can find all the details on the Amazon Warehouse Deals page.

You can also hunt for deals and used TV’s, Lights, Vacuums, and Appliances. To find products that work with the Echo, check the “Works with Alexa” filter in the right hand column:

Get the Ecobee 3 Lite if you are in Canada

The Ecobee 3 Lite is CAD $25 off in Canada:

In addition, you may also be eligible for rebates:

The Ecobee 3 Lite works with Siri and Amazon Echo. (US) offers Amazon Echo with Two or More Appliances

Bestbuy is offering an Amazon Echo worth US $99 when you buy two or more appliances totaling more $1499:

While the offer is good, consumers will feel a bit lost. BestBuy does not indicate, like Amazon does, which appliances interface with the voice services. For retailers, indicating which voice ecosystem the appliance interfaces with needs to be a standard web design feature.

PullString Converse: VoiceFirst Prototyping Design and Development Tool


For those who don’t develop, a new set of voice prototyping, design and deployment tools for voice apps are available. Last week PullString launched PullString Converse and we got a chance to talk to Michael Fitzpatrick, the President and Chief Operating Officer for PullString.

Michael Fitzpatrick

Michael:  “the product is designed for creative professionals, digital marketers, and innovation teams without requiring any coding or technical knowledge”

VoiceStrategist: How did you step into the field of voice? Where do you see it heading?

Michael: PullString began its life as a technology company focused on building conversational toys for the children’s market back in 2011. The company has since evolved to provide software to empower creative professionals, digital marketers, and innovation teams to build engaging conversational experiences for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IoT devices.

Over the years, we learned by building experiences of our own, as well as supporting other brands like Mattel, Activision, and Nickelodeon who have leveraged our software platform. The emergence of voice-enabled devices and platforms like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are rapidly pushing the field forward and into consumer households creating the opportunity for brands to have highly engaging 1-1 personalized conversations with their consumers at scale.

VoiceStrategist: What is PullString Conversion Cloud and Pullstring Converse? What is the difference?

Michael: PullString Converse is a software platform to design, prototype, and publish voice apps for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IoT devices. It is powered by our Conversation Cloud, which provides everything needed to deploy and support your voice apps once published to Amazon, Google, etc.

VoiceStrategist: PullString Converse is targeted towards “Brands”? Do you see the brands themselves using PullString or the agency(ies)?

Michael: We have experience with both brands directly creating and managing their voice apps, as well as Agencies building voice apps for their clients. PullString Converse was designed for team collaboration on voice apps, and this allows brands to build interactive voice apps with various team members internally ( creatives, digital marketers, and even legal for compliance purposes ), as well as cross-firewall with agencies. Likewise, agencies can leverage their resources and collaboratively design voice experiences with their clients.

VoiceStrategist: How would any collaboration work?

Michael: PullString supports team collaboration by enabling multiple users to engage on a given voice project with appropriate roles and permissions. Voice apps can be easily shared with others in the organization to preview and provide feedback. All of this has been designed to ensure the most engaging conversational experiences are being built with PullString.

VoiceStrategist: The case for informational voice app for Brands is straightforward – how well is Pullstring Converse situated to build transactional systems?

Michael: While there are a variety of informational voice apps available today, we think we’re only now just beginning to see some interesting examples of what’s possible through a combination of custom audio, interaction models, and personalization. Personalization, in particular, is something that can be dramatically enhanced through information available in transactional systems, and is a core part of our roadmap going forward.

VoiceStrategist: What are your thoughts about brands and retailers feeling voice apps are trouble for them? How can PullString Converse help them?

Michael: PullString Converse will allow brands to build engaging, interactive conversational experiences for their consumers. These voice apps have the potential to go much further than product ordering by embracing their brand persona, delivering complementary information and experiences to their product(s), and personalizing the experience for the consumer, at scale.

VoiceStrategist: So I am an agency and I have customers who might be interested. What would a partnership with PullString look like? Do you have easily accessible sales material or demos for customers?

Michael: We’d love to support you! We’ve designed PullString Converse to be a tool you can rapidly build voice apps with, and believe it will become a competitive differentiator for agencies pitching their clients on innovative marketing and customer experiences.

We will be launching a formal program in a few weeks, but in the meantime, please feel free to get in touch through our website and we’ll follow-up to get you started with all the right supporting material and product access.

VoiceStrategist: What kind of technical guidance is required to setup PullString Converse?

Michael: We designed PullString Converse to allow organizations to write conversation, not code. This means the product is designed for creative professionals, digital marketers, and innovation teams without requiring any coding or technical knowledge.

We will be following up on Friday with the second part of the interview, where we discuss the broader voicefirst ecosystem.

Resources: Where to find Developer Kits for Voice

Looking to jump into voice development? Here are quick links to the major developer kits for voice:


Siri Developer Kit

Tagline: Get things done with your content and services using just their voice with SiriKit


Tagline: Create a Cortana skill, reach millions of users in a natural and helpful way and create intelligent, personalized experiences for users

Google Assistant

Tagline: Bring voice control, to your devices by embedding the Google Assistant


Add voice to your big idea and reach more customers

Mycroft AI

Tagline: Mycroft is an open source voice assistant that can be extended and expanded to the limits of your imagination


Tagline: A new way to interact with your phone – assisting in completing tasks, telling you what you’re looking at, learning your routine and remembering what you need to do.


Voice and AI subreddits

Subreddits are a great place to find out about what is buzzing in the voice and AI community and to connect with people creating and using the technology. Here are a few interesting Voice and AI subreddits:


Google Assistant




Mycroft AI


IoT and Home Automation