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Day One: EXPO, Alexa Booths and a Smart Home

After the lunch rush, guests with renewed energy flock to the Exhibitors floor. In what is named "Instagram Alley," a seven-foot Amazon Alexa stands by the entrance for people to chat with her inside, two comfy blue beanbags rest against the wall, and two glass Amazon Alexa booths offer a silent refuge for anyone needing to take an emergency call or get some last-minute work done.

Alexa boothLarge Alexa booth on the Instagram Alley at EXPO.

Alexa work booths
Two glass Alexa booths for attendees needing quiet for work or a call.

At the very end of the Alley, cameras are pointed at two people having a conversation on the VOICE Press Stage. A few steps away, the Podcast Zone tables are poised at ready with their microphones and other audio equipment.

A few steps from the tables, Women in Tech are setting up their table. Carla Jennings, their business analyst, smooths out a wrinkle in the bright red tablecloth.

"We're excited to be here! I'm happy to be a part of it." She notes that she's also proud to see so many women standing strong behind their businesses around the event.

Going into the main EXPO demo room, a buzzing mix of attendees, students, investors and everyone in between are walking around colorful booths and tables. From early-stage startups to established corporations, the room offers an eclectic variety of ideas, and the vibe can only be explained as a a blend of curiosity and fascination.  Everyone is chatting, shaking hands, exchanging information, or casually wandering in between booths.

A smart house gleams at the end of the floor, drawing in a steady line of people eager to see what an Alexa-powered house looks like.

Alexa smart phone outside
Exterior of Amazon Alexa Smart Home at the EXPO demo.

Alexa Smart home
Alexa home voice 19Attendees exploring the interior of the Amazon Alexa smart home.

"It looks better than MY house," laughed Chris Rowland from the University of Michigan as he left the demo. Two interns also exited the smart house, chatting enthusiastically at the accessories they'd just seen.

One intern, Sanshal Bhayana, says that Sonos and Samsung have been his favorites so far, but he's pleasantly surprised at how advanced some of the technology at other booths is too. Next to him, Jerry Jaison from Prudential interjects that he had no idea VOICE would be "so huge," chuckling as he and his new friend walk off to explore more booths.

Near the smart home, Jared Landrum is standing cheerfully by the Bond.ai booth, occasionally reaching out to passersby.

"Everybody is here. People are all here for different reasons and Voice is bringing them all together." - Jared Landrum, Bond.ai

Jared adds that he has already met so many people and is stoked to be at VOICE this year.

On the other side of the room, Jacquie Tannenbaum from Digital Divide Data is roaming the booths from Applaud and NJIT Innovation's Lab. "I'm here looking for partnerships," she explained. "I've been chatting with some folks and it has been very worthwhile." She went to continue her search, but not before throwing out a delighted, "love NJIT!"

Back outside in the EXPO hall, the founder of Dashbot.ai, Arte Merritt, wanders around the booths in his shimmering, flower-patterned jacket; smiling at friends and acquaintances along the way. Various students are walking through with their phones held out in front, recording every move. Nearing the exit is the VOICE pop-up shop, a collection of branded paraphernalia like caps, shirts, water bottles, and vibrant tote bags.

As the Exhibitors begin to slow down for the day, attendees move their interests towards the main campus buildings where various panels and live-interviews are taking place.

Ready to join us at VOICE 2020? Pre-register here and stay in the loop for next year's tickets. Don't miss out!

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Jenny Medeiros

Written by Jenny Medeiros

Jenny is an engineer turned tech writer. She has hands-on experience in VR, AR, video game development, and UX-focused web design. Nowadays, she partners with tech companies to help people understand emerging technologies. When she's not writing, she's likely daydreaming and forgetting her tea.

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