This company is turning FAQs into Alexa skills

NoHold's QuickStart bot builder is expanding to Amazon's virtual assistant

People looking for an easier path to integrating with Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant have good news on the horizon. NoHold, a company that builds services for making bots, unveiled a project that seeks to turn a document into an Alexa skill.

It’s designed for situations like Airbnb hosts who want to give guests a virtual assistant that can answer questions about the home they’re renting, or companies that want a talking employee handbook. Bot-builders upload a document to NoHold’s Sicura QuickStart service, which then parses the text and turns it into a virtual conversation partner that can answer questions based on the file’s contents.

Right now, building Alexa skills is a fairly manual process that requires programming prowess and time to figure out Amazon’s software development tools for its virtual assistant. People who want to change the way that a bot behaves have to go in and tweak code parameters.

“Right now, if there has been a little bit of a pushback on bots and virtual assistants, it’s because they tend to be gimmicky,” NoHold CEO Diego Ventura said. “They’re either born out of mashing up existing APIs, like the typical bot that just gives you the weather, or they’re born out of somebody patiently having to specify every single utterance that somebody may use. That’s not scalable.”

In contrast, a bot made with QuickStart can be changed by uploading a new version of the document that spawned it. Based on a demo Ventura gave using an Echo in NoHold’s office, that same capability will apply to the company’s Alexa integration.

However, NoHold’s work still requires Amazon to make some changes to its development tools before the new capabilities can be made broadly available. Ventura is hoping the company will make the requisite changes in the near future.

The company’s goal for this feature is to allow QuickStart users to turn a bot they create into a skill that other people can download from the Alexa marketplace.

In the meantime, people can still try out QuickStart’s text bot creation capabilities for free. NoHold also offers a pro version of QuickStart that supports customizing how the resulting bot looks.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Blair Hanley Frank

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?