R U OK? and The Works launch voice technology for Google Assistant

Paige Murphy
By Paige Murphy | 12 September 2019

R U OK? has released a voice technology resource to help Australians navigate an R U OK? conversation whenever and wherever they choose.

RUOK Mate is an Action on Google, created and developed pro-bono for R U OK? by creative agency The Works, part of the RXP Group.

The tool provides strategies for how to manage a conversation if someone answers, ‘No, I’m not ok’.

Anyone concerned about family, friends or colleagues can access the interactive conversation on their Google Home or Google Assistant enabled smartphone or device by simply saying “Hey Google, talk to RUOK Mate”.

R U OK? CEO Katherine Newton says it’s important to deliver the R U OK? message to people in ways that keep pace with changing technology.

"We know the majority of Australians believe talking to someone who’s struggling can make a difference," she says.

"But what we’re focused on is building confidence in people, so they know when and how to have an R U OK? conversation.

“It’s vital we utilise new ways to build confidence and RUOK Mate has the potential to do that in a way that we have not seen before. Together, with support from organisations such as The Works, we hope to empower people to trust their gut instinct and ask the question as soon as they spot the signs that someone might be struggling with life.”

World Champion surfer and R U OK? ambassador Layne Beachley is supporting the project.

“This is a great use of technology to reach those people for whom voice assisted technology is becoming commonplace,” Beachley says.

“Having struggled myself, it wasn’t until I was asked ‘are you ok?’ that I recognised I needed support. I’m proud to champion this resource that will increase the confidence and readiness of Australians to have meaningful conversations that can change lives.”

Beachley will support the campaign with a video across R U OK social media channels.

Using Action on Google The Works has collaborated with R U OK? to develop five scenarios that allow users to virtually role play conversations based on situations that might indicate someone is struggling with life’s ups and downs.

The action offers practical tips on how to offer support to those who need it and takes the user through the R U OK? four steps: Ask R U OK?; Listen; Encourage Action and Check In.

“This year, R U OK? are calling on Australians to trust the signs that indicate it’s time to start a conversation with someone they're worried about," Paul Swann, managing partner and creative partner at The Works says.

"We wanted to find a way to encourage more people to ask this potentially life changing question and a voice app seemed like an appropriate platform, particularly as usage of voice assistants is growing.

“Research showed us that while people often have good intentions to ask someone R U OK?, some of us hold back from asking because we’re not sure of how to react to their response. Our Action on Google gives helpful advice on when, where and how to ask through a series of interactive scenarios.”

The Voice of Us research report, carried out by The Works, found almost 70% of Australians with enabled technology use voice to interact with assistants and smart speakers and of those surveyed 31% would consider using human voice interfaces to interact in relation to health.

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