Boba Me

Project Overview

As someone that loves boba tea, I have come to notice that most of the time, the lines are pretty long at boba shops. To help solve this, I created a voice UI app for Google Assistant, called Boba Me. Boba Me acts as a virtual barista who will send orders straight to the boba tea shops, so the actual baristas can start preparing drinks right away.

My goal with this project was to create a solution for users to get their boba drinks in a faster and easier way.

Role: VUI Designer

Timeline:
May 2018

Project type:
Individual personal project

User Interviews

I conducted user interviews with people that fit this user group. I asked each person to participate in a role play with me where I would be the barista, and they would order a Boba tea drink from me. We then reversed roles to see if anything changed with our conversation. I took notes during the conversations and noted the questions that were most commonly asked.

Since I also visit Boba tea shops frequently, I paid extra attention to my interactions with the baristas to see what they asked me and how I naturally responded. I also asked the baristas if they could tell me a little more about how people usually order their drinks from them.

Once I had the conversation written out, I looked at which words had different variations. I added the different variations and possibilities of responses that I could think of for each of the words.

Task Flow

Explicit Invocation

Here is a visual representation of what happens when the user asks their Google Assistant to use Boba Me by name. This representation is adapted from the model provided by Google developers.

Interface on the Google Assistant App

Here's what the interface of the app would look like to someone using it on their phone through the Google Assistant app, instead of speaking their order to a Google Home device.

Identifying Possible Responses

Through using these highlighted key words, I was able to differentiate possible responses to the prompts that Boba Me would ask.

Challenges

I originally started this project wanting to call the agent, “Boba ordering assistant,” but the term “assistant” wasn’t available to use as an invocation through Actions on Google. Needing to change the name made me realize something even more important. The first name I had decided on was too long for a user to say when they wanted to order a drink.

The invocation phrase should be short and easy to speak out loud. This way, users can accomplish their task of ordering a drink quicker, which is why I ended up choosing “Boba Me” as the final name.

Another challenge I faced was trying to create a difference between the same words being used to answer two different questions. For example, when a user would specify the level of sweetness, they can say "normal" or "regular," but they can also say those terms when answering the ice level.

At the time of creating this Action, there weren't many tutorials or online resources available. I had to dig around online until I eventually found a YouTube video of a Google Assistant employee giving a talk at a conference, and in the middle of the video was the answer I was looking for.

Final Thoughts

This was the first voice user interface conversation that I have made and it was more challenging than I thought it would be. I had to consider all possible answers that someone would say and create answers for them so the user wouldn't get stuck. I also had to be mindful not to include questions that were too long because the users wouldn't be able to retain all of the information. Because of that, I split up the questions to get short answers and help ease the conversation.


I also filmed a video interacting with Boba Me on my own Google Home Mini, which you can view down below!