Amazonâ€™s voice assistant Alexa now supports skills aimed for kids ages 13 and under, as spotted by TechCrunch. This provides developers with a simpler way to create voice apps for children, in a space where some may have been hesitant to do so because of strict child privacy protection laws. Amazon says hundreds of developers have already expressed interest in developing skills for this age group, and rolled this feature out first to users in the US.
Alexa skills are actions that users can add to their Alexa account and use via voice commands. Parents can enable the new feature after verifying their identity through an SMS code, or by entering the security code of the credit card saved on their Amazon account.
Some skills already available include a SpongeBob SquarePants game in which kids work at the Krusty Crab, the cartoonâ€™s famous diner, and deal with customersâ€™ orders that increasingly become more challenging.
â€œTo engage kids, we leveraged the rich soundscape of SpongeBob SquarePants by including its iconic music, colorful sound effects, and beautiful rich audio transitions, not to mention SpongeBobâ€™s crazy laugh,â€ said Darren Brelesky, senior vice president of product and technology at Nickelodeon on Amazonâ€™s Alexa blog. There are 80 memory challenges, featuring more than 70 characters from the cartoon including Patrick, Plankton, and Squidward.
Thereâ€™s also a Sesame Street skill that involves different voice games. One is hide-and-seek, where Elmo hides in a secret location and offers clues for kids to guess where he is. The team behind the Sesame Street skills also focused on sounds to engage children, choosing those that make children laugh like moos and oinks.
Amazon says skills for kids should create memorable moments, as well as help kids be curious and explore. The launch also includes other kids skills like an animal sounds quiz and Amazon Storytime.