By Matthew Chayes
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The “assistants” allow people to use their devices hands-free, and can act as remote controls for other connected systems.
The Google Assistant is on more than a half-billion devices around the world, but parts of its personality come from just three women at the tech giant’s offices in Manhattan.
Emma Coats, Elena Skopetos and Patricia Romero are part of a Personality Team that supplies the wits behind the tens of thousands of responses loaded onto the voice-controlled digital Assistant, which can play songs, read email aloud and even provide a little company.
When the Assistant tells a joke or offers a pick-me-up, the trio had a hand in writing the words.
“It’s really friendly. It thinks you’re amazing,” said Coats, 32, the team supervisor and a native Californian who worked in animation and games.
“We want it to be humble, and we want it to be positive,” said Skopetos, 27, a New Jersey native with a background in comedy, acting and voice-over work.
The Assistant, Siri is Apple’s voice assistant and Amazon has Alexa, comes on the voice-activated speaker Google Home and Android phones, and can be downloaded for free onto Apple mobile devices.
The assistants allow people to use their devices hands-free, and can act as remote controls for other connected systems.
The women take cues from the calendar, for holidays, and from users. They tee up their one-liners based on top Google searches and go back to the drawing board if Google research shows that users didn’t like a rejoinder.
Ask the Assistant “Who’s your crush?” and hear an answer penned by Skopetos: “The thermostat and I have this hot and cold thing going on;” the Assistant can help control the temperature, by the way.
Ask what the Assistant’s favorite color is, and hear “red, blue, yellow and green”, Google’s corporate colors.