Fast Scalable Voice IoT Apps – Syed Ahmed, PubNub – Voice Tech Podcast ep.012

Syed Ahmed PubNub

Episode description

Syed Ahmed is a Developer Advocate at PubNub, a global Data Stream Network and real-time infrastructure-as-a-service company based in San Francisco, California. PubNub’s products allow developers to build realtime web, mobile, voice and IoT applications. Low network latency is especially important for voice enabled applications that integrate with IoT devices, as any delay during a conversational interaction can affect usability and frustrate users.

In this episode, Syed explains how PubNub solves the latency problem by using a serverless architecture of PubNub Blocks, and walks us through a simple real-world example of a voice enabled doorbell. We learn about the publisher-subscriber pattern that underpins this technology, and why building voice apps with PubNub is quicker, easier and much more scalable than other methods.

A nice surprise during this conversation was that using PubNub Blocks not only improves the network performance of voice apps, but can be used to add advanced features such as contextual memory between phrases, and even between voice devices on different platforms, allowing developers to build more advanced interactions. It’s a great episode, so check it out!

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Episode transcript

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welcome back to the voice Tech podcast I’m your host Carl Robinson bringing you the latest research and development in the field of voice technology through a series of entertaining inspirational and informative conversations with voice technology experts go ahead about the latest products and Concepts invoice at new ideas for your voice project and that about the tools and techniques that will turn those ideas into reality

today you’ll have from Syed Ahmed developer Advocate at pubnub is a global data stream network and real-time infrastructure-as-a-service company based in San Francisco California they make products for software and Hardware developers to build real-time web mobile voice and iot applications

pubnub solves a very important problem faced by voice application and iot developers and that’s what latency

so who won our attention is usually focused on how to build voice applications in the interface it sound it’s easy to forget about the infrastructure that I was the old behind the scenes at the network connection between voice interface and the other systems and devices that integrates where they slow then the usability of the voice application can suffer a great deal and he said because when we make a request by voice we expect an instant response we expect a confirmation that our request has been understood is being processed and then has been completed and the Foster this happens the more usable unuseful the system is

use a simply won’t tolerate long pauses between the request in the response regardless of the actions being performed in the background and is forcing devices continue to gain popularity I will use them the form of another great number of tasks to interface with more more iot devices and will expect them to interface with more complex systems as well all the while maintaining an acceptable Pace in the.

In today’s episode sign that explains how pubnub solve this problem by walking us through a simple real world example of a voice enabled doorbell explains what the publisher subscribe Immortal is the name pubnub and how you can use it in your own voice applications and then he shows us why building voice apps with pubnub is actually quicker easier and much more scalable than the traditional methods

food this morning before I did the final edit of the show and recorded this intro I listen to it really motivational podcast will the inbound success podcast where the host Kathleen Booth was in you sent it interviewing Jay Atkins oh about the formula for creating a successful podcast Jay shed a little Grapevine much wet Choctaw applies to printing products of any kind to be honest I put the one that really spoke to me was about getting to know your audience as well as possible and this is the last time I’ve learned in my previous Rouses apartment manager at Septra to the more you talk to the people that you’re trying to provide provide a service to the bed of the service that you can provide

Dogs release 12 episodes now and you guys are stuck with me to this point so I’m clearly I’m doing something right and I have received some really kind of posted comments on Twitter and email and in person which I’m very very grateful. I think now is the perfect time for me to get to know my regular listeners you a little bit better I’d love to know more about who you are and what you’re working at why you listen to this podcast and how it helps you and your daddy work and I’m sure there’s things I can be doing differently that’s why I was so perhaps the show is too long maybe you want to hear more from academic researchers or product designers and whatever it is I’m sure you will have an opinion on the other bus or cast and I would love to talk to you about it so that I could find out more about what you think

so we not said I’d like to invite you all to 15-minute one to one cool with me about you I’d be happy to answer any questions that you have to me as well. So you can ask me anything about voice technology or percussing or whatever and if I can answer that then I will but if not then I can find out or I need to find a ghast who doesn’t know and then maybe do an episode on it so if you talk to a quick chat just pay me an email with your contact details in your preferred time to call out voicetechpodcast.com and we can set something up I think I’ll be fun

okay so with that it’s my pleasure to introduce Syed Ahmed

okay so I’m here with Syed Ahmed his lead developer Advocate intrapreneur pubnub computer science graduate and former web on Android developer side is now focused on helping develop his line I get the most from pubnub products number of articles on how can noon as well so how you doing

doing well doing well how are you I’m going to buy the things he has the end of the day to me honest at the end of the day see you tonight backgrounds and how you ended up working pubnub

yeah sure so I’m basically a dopers off engineer and I was working in the mortally ready to come and see you I thought it was amazing just to show my affection and still could also be able to contract with the doctors and try to help you out with what they doing where are you now where are you based

yeah so I’m in San Francisco downtown San Francisco and work out of there their headquarters here

shut down so I guess she born in the UAE to buy and I moved over to Toronto and that’s kind of where channels my life and studied Wilfrid Laurier in Waterloo I can’t see the picture on the back

I think that even though it is professional black people in San Francisco made it feel like it was not home I really feel that it’s part of who I am now the cultures is hundred percent that a person to answer that way home I’m telling us like what is pubnub for the science

yeah so I’m going to move is very interesting thing because it’s more of a concept of being able to deliver things real time and and we kind of comes to us different products that we have options do we start off with OSHA subscriber outside model and Duchess any data to a channel and being able to receive it on the other end in real-time across the world and Roll Tide meaning Wesley courter second Wednesday Services is like the idea of having a couple customers and businesses to be able to talk to each other real time using more of a concept the real time and we’re trying to deliver on that concert with the different products that we have right now it’s a company you’re all about low latency

messages being sent to and from a different software components are in a company other companies self-replication spicy thing

okay good stuff and then what particular areas to focus on life who your clients and what kind of problems do you solve

yes so our clients are really over the mat so we have eBay for example that uses for different functionality on their platforms and also Limited in the scope of companies that we have really if you have a need that’s real time we are the company that delivers at work Readiness cheerleader were the market and also try to do it again also if I can buy it

where they feel around this look up

exactly yeah we had we have to use centers in case we ever he constantly can think of those countries to so you guys been around for a while and I guess you thought some significant significant asked that so I just peed all over the world

we’ve been around 26 years 6 7 years so we’re not going on you two having to get ability and reliability Thomas Howell pubnub can help voice technology developers then like how can how can people use this technology to to improve will to build voice interface is voice assistance and I’m like

yeah so I think I think voice Technologies again for Putnam specifically is because it allows two different devices be able to communicate real time and I think right now the space is just kind of Science Explorer you know the cars and

Republican since all this is when you have these two devices used to Smart devices and he needs to have that experience and activity from Alexa to another device that’s not right in your house or not close to Alexa make sense I’m in conversation is all about realtime not really it’s the thing that distinguishes it from Chapel in that job also kind of a synchronous you know you can write a message when you can wait you can come back to it and then in reply to a voice conversation chat it’s it’s instant have to be after you right back and it does any licenses if there’s any lag destroys the whole the whole thing but you’re talking about the messages from one person to the next sometimes the voice but you’re talking about the messages received my voice interface in order to carry out some kind of action

I’m trigger on some behavior in an iot device

yeah exactly and I’m so

that’s that’s not the only use Kidz straight like in my coyote device in my P another life doesn’t have to be necessarily labeled as I was to you could be any device

okay and so tell us a bit about how it works then you mention Publishers subscriber I had the time indication response somewhere so what were the sounds mean and how do I apply

yeah so right now if we look at how we send message using Alexa we do like rest API calls or we can request a feature called cinder blocks and either their own serverless functions in the clouds are kind of like an honest functions and basically we can do is the call these functions and get them to carry out a lot of time with in that little block and then to quit if you’re over the world and put on pubnub service that can be triggered through voice command

exactly okay what’s the difference between putting code in a pub not block and triggering it like that and just writing an Alexa skill then I guess the coat that lies on the Alexa on the Amazon Savage and is triggered by what was the difference in why would you want to do one rather than the other

yeah so on one hand you have Alexa. Able to have a very limited scope of what I can do and I’ll be your head you have the flexibility of block so you can have one H I called you a bunch of things on that call has to be one at a time two different services and also the idea of having something to be real time a lot of these guys they’re not real time and I’m not be able to execute that little time friend that you have speed is an issue and it’s better for the code on a on a popping up 7 and it is to put it on the only honest and said that if you can be sure the excuse in real time

I said okay about it benefit from it

yeah so kind of when I was entering into the voice text based I I played around and made this app called intercom this morning to call him and this was what that person comes up to the house right and you want them to get you the homeowner but they’re not at home you have the electric set up in a way that they can attract them say Alexa open at you and wants to do an indication of accident in real time after the homeowner and in this scenario if that’s really important to have your time because this Christians accept the responsibility payment if you’re not eating those expectations the customer goes away or the person goes away so they’re able to make the ocean through pubnub Action Electric ones other tasks but you’ve already said so how many says okay left them in the door opens

ideas for pubnub fits in perfectly because it requires that real-time interactions mean friend. I need an answer right now that may need to be I need somebody so I can do okay I see some kind of battle that you press the button you you aren’t you say the name of the person that name is sent to Alexa at least then send it on to your custom code on the pups of a and then it’s that’s the code on the pubnub server that then decides what to do with that name so at it then I guess looks nice database for weather that name exists in the household and if it does I can send a message directly to the IRT to buy solo many iot devices within the home that correspond to that name so she knows if they also somebody cool gym

it would look in the house and if he does then it would send a message to all the devices that Jim has registered so Jim’s phone know everybody’s phone how about then also maybe you know that the toll battle that the alarm in the house the lights whatever to that to let you know that he’s that some of the door

yeah exactly exactly okay sense and that that’s an example of the publisher subscribe the motherland so I guess you can tell us the other day about lots of what is the population of Screven motor run hot and in an In-N-Out scenario which is the publisher and which is the subscriber

yeah exactly so we can be sure to try and bottle and send Alexander kind of uses explain the idea to a lot of different at all. So I will see you in a whiteboard right and you’re the classroom you can think of the person the teacher as the publisher so he’s writing something on the Whiteboard and all the students are subscribers to that so that white boys so whatever the teacher puts on to the board as soon as I’m able to look at it and it so happens in real time and you can think of the classroom at the channel and everyone that subscribe to their channels can I receive those messages and the teacher and how much into that channel so I can probably the easiest way to explain that. And I’ll read out and I think that that there’s a keep on asking us to pray and I was cheap because the pot whether the you know that could be one on many students looking at the white ball

receiving my information it is great because the students as you can imagine choose whether or not like another for the Whiteboard exact location to publish described as hit the Subscribe you can choose to subscribe to the message or not I know why my phone what you paid for it says watson send you the messages go publishes do not throw it on the last messages to be sent directly to specific receivers coach subscribers instead of messages into classes without knowledge of which described as if I need an IV site of the teachers writing blind on the Whiteboard probably doesn’t even know how many children are in the class and animal classes I’m done you receive messages that are of Interest which without knowledge of the book publishers if any there are so that’s just the children wouldn’t even know if that was a teacher

in front of them but if anything appears on the Whiteboard and it’s the kind of information that they want to absorb then I’ll absorb it okay cool so I mean it’s kind of iot systems because then you can just throw these messages out and then and then the iot devices that the messages to choose to subscribe to them then pick up these messages not to pawn them so you can add more devices to the system without the publisher being away she didn’t in the doorbell scenario I guess we can add on a Raspberry Pi which would receive the same messages on Jim’s Android app and then when somebody price of the the bottom of the door the rock your time I meant to sound all kicked off some other options and let you know whatever occupy them you know wants to do that as long as it has a subscriber

so you need to be a developer to use publicity sounds in a reasonably technical what do we do what we need to do

so I think part number to the point where it’s fairly easy for developers but again the keywords developers you can develop a ton of using JavaScript I think we’ve already covered the majority of people will be all set back so you can use with over 270 programming languages so you can do something for yourself her but at the same time there’s a very low. I’m sure you could be any developer and still be great on the phone Alexa Rob how do I make that a publisher and how do I make my iot device a subscriber to that to those messages

yeah so we’ll use the same arrest model if you wanted to send a message to nhi you can go create a function or and then be able to send a message to the API that that block is is sitting on and send me a message will be sent to the channel as well

that when he says it sent to the channel and said that the message in the aqi request goes up to the other pubnub server that gets processed by the block and then automatically sent out broke ass to old subscribers that subscribe to that do not block is that right

yeah exactly so I can I said that within a channel and it can publish that channel that you don’t even have to publish your call you want I wish all this crap is over how do you define a channel

yeah so what channel could be any name and I’ll be attached to the keys that we give you the the client the publisher subscriber Keith and so in that channel you can have that Publishers and subscribers and that’s for the data is going to rain can have as many channels as you want each independent of each other

okay so that you might want to have a channel for a notification that are being sent

what is the fastest single publisher and a single and i t a subscriber could be members of multiple channels depending on the kind of messages that I sending

okay if your scale then I guess you would just get it to hit the VIP what about if you develop an app like an Android app how do you get lot to yeah I know we allow those different Avenues if you could get you guys about that you understand that there’s more than one way to just pick

okay so just a reminder that I’m on a mission to get to know you my audience better some extending an invitation to you all for a quick 15-minute one to one cool with me I can find out more about you while you’re working with voice challenges you’re facing and what you think about this podcast and you can ask me anything you like about voice technology and I’ll do my best to answer or I’ll find a gas to

it’s something different I’m not tried it before and I think it could be fun so if you’re interested just give me an email with your contact details and your preferred time to Kyle at voicetechpodcast.com and we can set something up okay now let’s get back to this don’t have to get us owed

what are the benefits are there if using pubnub enemy says it is real time is low latency and all the things that you can do from that other things you can do to Republic that you just couldn’t do within the cut with the current infrastructure

yeah so when actually look and how the transit changing chunk of how we structure our applications online for monolithic architecture is Jamaica services and I don’t think lamenting serverless the whole idea of this whole Tribulus movement is to have something that takes a logic out of your application and put it on a server somewhere else that’s be managed by another company right so they take care of Kayla bility reliability and routing and everything so that’s that’s Republic comes in and that’s where you’ll be able to make your app more agile and more adaptable when you take a logical and be able to separate it from your from your up-front application cuz then you can change your logic and your application still be functioning

could just be changed to to build the app in the first place and it also makes it easier to maintain over the longer time

exactly and scalability I think it’s something that every to talk about when they’re building a business or doing it for the application so having your application on my application to be able to see it it doesn’t it doesn’t consume all the devices on on the it devices that sound like the network something but I’m working and that has the Wi-Fi chip and unable to run pubnub on this small little

esp8266 and be able to send messages through that and be able to control my robot using from the functions in real time so I’m driving as long as you can stop itself within like 20 cm is an object you can see how that could help with tractors and farm and you can have that low latency to stop at Raptors and also change the logic without actually going to attract and no need to actually go to the physical

you can just change it on on the dashboard on a dime and I would like my SD card that goes in these devices actually makes the the network that the networking started things less heavy as well that frees up resources for the device to do other things and provide signing into that binds to messaging capability I saw that online presence detection what was that

yeah so the whole idea cousins was kind of

to bring in the shower you chat application so I can talk to you on lunch at 5 and you want to see if I’m online or offline is able to check that and other status to other people that are in the chat room or an application that requires that I could be any kind of states is not in the case of that little robe on it could be you know whether it’s rolling or not I can be a movement state test or something

yeah exactly okay another STK another Staffing the the net what messaging chain does not introduce security vulnerabilities all anymore to worry about then why is not just another headache

Alexa developer

I was reading a little bit about I’m just at the house Publishers cry method and iot and in general and I’ve got a couple of things I just applied to pubnub to the whole United iot space it doesn’t matter how good the the network is the system sound as I can be quite small quite low power low speed and go to sleep introduces. Another level of of latency that sometimes can be harder to control and that’s just something that developers need to be aware of my thing is regardless of that how quick does the message get sent to the device to device itself cannot should be can I should be slow

I know exactly

I think that when it comes to Idabel thing I have to drive. I can handle the network side but the off position is kind of car you getting to this lay down but you talk to consider that the power of the device itself the reliability of these things already cheap sometimes I just don’t you know a couple of box some kind of Sensa so they can make him fall over I know said if they are subscribing to not just your channel but maybe they just describing to two other people channels as well. Going to be subbing most broke it once and say maybe that not just just awaiting your messages but they’re actually busy by the time your message gets that I’m so yeah it’s less reliable is that she had at that load and I can text you so late I was as long as there’s other things to think about Robin just just the network

okay so how do you say pubnub helping voice app developers in the future I mean what are the problems that I still am resolved and voice into faces today and how competitive help

yeah so there’s one idea that we talked about earlier a real time contractions at something that’s not really on the minds of other people behind Alexa so you have you use different models where you map out every single thing that happened to me Alexa and she has to

make sure you have a very limited set of instruction they can get so if you wanted to be able to add more flexibility to your WhatsApp and be able to have those better experiences that’s where I’m not busy helping

okay I’m kicking you give us an example and can you elaborate on that bet

yeah sure so I got Mike looking at the in Chicago

we have the real time talking between the person coming to the to the door and the homeowner that the application so in that situation you’ll need to have the real time if I’m talking I can switch them out and voice devices I have no memory of the moment there’s nothing remember between consecutive phrases in a single conversation so in the doghouse now if you want to gym and then said was if you there or not the divorce in space would have no idea who he was referring to in that second fries at the moment I’m sure it’s on its way but I mean helping in this in this scenario

yeah so yeah when you need it when you need to have that memory between different implications of the Alexa device that’s where that’s also kind of times we have Channel History that you can call on and be able to see the message that you sent and also we were able to store memory into a function so you can I call them each time I say okay so in in lieu of the featuring should be provided by Amazon and we should say all the other voice assistance is why I don’t even mention I like to see if I buy as anyone is listening to this she knows that that plenty and more on the way but I’m offering the memories service at the moment so it’s not good enough fuel needs to still alive. Session data in between phrases and vacations and will send between a longer. Of time I guess

yeah exactly days or months or even between devices perhaps I mean using pubnub to connect all of the possible input and output channels in in your system then I guess you could do that please

yeah you can you can have multiple Alexa devices then have them share the same data and write out if that’s kind of hot so you think that if you had that option you be able to do much more for by chills and be able to do that are not only really need but also I remember. Checker absolutely no response to that question that questions between Alexa devices you can go between different rooms in your house between different systems you know you could you could make a request in to Amazon Samsung device and then make a follow request into a Google assistant and and if you continue the conversation because it new through through the pubnub session what what you just been talking about on the dates that you just started

yeah and I think that’s that’s one of the key aspects of having a collect Christian love voice World Riley where we talked to something and and it’s not only just getting up there we could eat a response regarding Spartan light going off what we said before I can see now that there’s plenty of them there’s plenty of advantages to using something like pubnub in with voice and face it today I never considered that the whole complex thing it’s more than just a little late so I’m really interesting way of enhancing voice actor voice applications and getting ahead of the Curve

what kinds of things will you be working over there working on it for the next 6 to 12 months and how you going to be promoting this stuff to develop those cuz it’s not leading you on my radar and I think it’s something that you would immediately think of when will you be Alexis scale of an actual action whatever he wouldn’t immediately think of the infrastructure behind that because you assume the Google or Amazon or just providing all of that for you and is that the number to talk to just talk to him tonight and it’s kind of the system so it out and in what ways can develop his stop to get involved in it

I think that as a graphic I’ve noticed that the best way to get more than Office on Board is getting them that hands-on experience meeting up with them helping them out there looking at these type of questions or maybe you should stay so there are you know me along with other people on my team we go out to meet us we hosting us at our office and also sent

a combination of a lot of things just educate developers. As long as you understand that this options available for the user that’s the costly what would be happy with and that’s kind of what we’re trying to do next next 6 to 12 months of kind of our goal with developers have been implementing this for the first time what what are the typical challenges do they have not had to be how do I overcome them

I think a lot of times but about me something that is too difficult I just can’t do it right when they go into thinking about realtime like a dog being to ask when they walk through and the CEO while he’s the job description and function the end it will just run its kind of amazing I remember being this one developer at a time you have been he said I was a project I honestly right when I call. I need to be happy and I realize I can’t

excellent Alright good stuff while thanks so much for bringing it to our attention as well I think it’s really interesting concept and it’s not talk to you that the voice interface The Voice Community can can benefit from something that’s been used by these these huge companies to to run these enormous web apps every day and now we can have the same kind of performance in the same functionality the individual develop that why can people find Morel to find out more about pubnub how to use it I find out more about you as well in the on supposed to go publishing

yeah so I have the same handle across every platform that I’m on so if you just look up an access y UD you can find me on Twitter Instagram medium or medium you can find them show you how to build the intercom using pubnub that also and thank you very much for your time and everything

you just had from Syed Ahmed developer Advocate at pubnub

11 what side was saying about adding memory between phrases in requests between devices I think the possibilities are endless rallying and really would go towards creating a much more lifelike much more useful conversation experience with the voice interface in our lives if they can actually remember what we said the phrase before or when we were in the other room I took him out something similar referencing things that explicitly stated in in the Contra Quest is a real-time infrastructure projects such as pubnub could turn out to provide the opportunity to not such an important feature that you would think it’s it’s all about real time as what about that while I sit alone the whole because you’re running code in these in the 70s architecture in the end of pubnub blocks to this is so much more that you can do with that so that that was impressive

and in general I’m continually amazed at how wide and varied the voice technology space is as the more guest I speak to them or uncover and also amazed at how fast it continues to grow and every diet is husky pup

I’m but not said I’m also surprised at how little known this field is I’m sure a lot of people up or tacos but it’s really still in its infancy and it’s very important that we spread the message that was technology is coming it’s a it’s a big change from what people used to typing in typing I’m only running supposed to be on the map and in the mind the message we people building the voice technology skills the devices Services of this responsibility that we want to build brakes for an acid attack thanks it’s now on we’re coming down the pipeline and also to promote a better understanding of the potential benefits to individuals and companies in a few minutes to do this then I seem as a Business Leaders gain more respect for the field and in turn will play small priority on implementing this type of technology in their homes in the what places

this is way the select few already know that is good for the soul

that’s all for today I hope you enjoyed listening as always you can find the show notes with links the results as mentioned it yesterday. Voicetechpodcast.com if you’ve made it all the way to the end of this episode they shows you the one of the most committed listeners so I would like to talk to you most of all to get in touch and set up a cool with me I’m running 15 minutes or longer if you like I just email your contact details and perfect time to call at. Hotels.com

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