The National Hockey League and ISL teamed up to get ahead of a growing trend: A third of all US homes have Alexa-enabled devices. That number goes up in major markets that have NHL teams. On top of that, Amazon has made it clear that multi-modal voice experiences – or Alexa skills that work across devices small and large, with or without screens – are a priority.
So together, we made the NHL the first major North American professional sports league to offer detailed player profiles, real-time game information, schedule updates, and more for screen-enabled devices like the Echo Spot, Echo Show, and FireHD TV.
We crafted our own design system to fit each team’s color scheme, a one-of-a-kind VUX that put a fan’s favorite team at the center of every interaction, and an architecture that leverages the NHL’s own API and Amazon Programming Language.
ISL provided expert consultation on how to build a comprehensive foundation for a multi-modal voice experience.
The Official NHL Skill does it all. To check scores, you can ask Alexa questions such as “Ask NHL, what is the score of the Red Wings game?” You can ask for game previews and recaps as well as real-time updates during every NHL game. To get team schedules, you can ask Alexa questions such as “Ask NHL, when is the next Sharks game?” or “Who do the Maple Leafs play tomorrow?”
You can also ask for biographical and statistical information on every current NHL player. You can even set reminders 30 minutes before the start of your favorite team’s game!
Just after the release of the NHL Skill, LG displayed it on their latest Alexa-enabled TVs at CES 2019, as seen above. Using APL, or Amazon Programming Language, the ISL team built a scalable voice-visual experience, fit to work on any screen from 80″ TVs with a 16:9 display down to circular 3″ Echo Spot displays. The experience is still completely voice driven. We followed Amazon’s VUX standards for creating visual design that complements, and doesn’t dictate, rich voice experiences.
The NHL's AI capabilities, showcased by Alexa, promise a huge potential impact on sports.
The fan experience doesn’t center around the league. It revolves around one team. From the start, we needed to consider how to craft a conversational and visual experience that caters to different teams, each of which have different color schemes, logos, players, and schedules.
Before we played with pixels, we designed the conversation to start by logging your favorite team. The first time a user opens the Skill, they’re prompted to state their favorite team – e.g. the Nashville Predators. So the next time a user asks about an upcoming game or the current score, Alexa knows to check the Predators. Alexa could even recognize short-hand and colloquial team names, like the Pens, Preds, Hawks, and Fly Guys.
The supporting design system used key color and logo elements recognizable to fans to underscore matchups and create visual cues.