Just in time for the NFL Playoffs, which kick off this weekend, casual football fans can learn the difference between a tight end and a wide receiver, or what the heck “move the chains” means, simply by asking Amazon’s Alexa.
The league is teaming with the tech giant for a new skill for the voice assistant called “The Rookie’s Guide to the NFL.” For viewers who might be puzzled by some of the terminology used throughout a typical game broadcast, the skill is designed to provide quick answers.
USA Today reported that the NFL’s Digital Lab team, a group within NFL Media, developed the skill by poring over the league’s entire rulebook. The guide includes 2,000 terms, related to positions, formations, rules, players and more.
We launched the skill on an Amazon Echo in the GeekWire newsroom and ran it through the paces. By prompting Alexa to “open NFL,” the skill began with the grunting sounds of a football tackle being made, followed by a male voice saying, “Hit me.”
Answers to a variety of questions were plenty descriptive. When asked “what’s pass interference?” the skill provided a roughly 10-second reply explaining the rule against a defender making contact with a receiver when the ball is in the air.
The skill then asked if we’d like to “go long” for a more detailed answer, and provided 30 more seconds of explanation around the rule.
USA Today reported that devices with a screen such as the Echo Spot or Echo Show enable viewers to see supplemental video explainers on some topics.
“This is the first skill we launched as a league and certainly the most ambitious,” Dan Hogan, vice president of engineering, media services for the NFL told the newspaper. “This really is a bit of a test pilot for us. Our thought is really anywhere where the technology exists – you have a microphone, speaker and a screen perhaps – we think ultimately you’re going to want to use your voice.”
Finally, we asked the skill who was going to win Super Bowl 53 and the voice deflected, only saying that Maroon 5 was scheduled to perform at halftime in Atlanta on Feb. 3.
So we asked Alexa. She said it’s too early to tell, but that she was pulling for her hometown Seattle Seahawks.