It’s clear to see the positive impact which voice is having on mobile app development and the digital transformation of many business projects now includes voice control. At Waracle we’re enthusiastic about all digital products and have been developing our skills (excuse the pun) to become relative experts at including voice technology into our clients’ mobile apps and broader digital transformation strategies.
Voice can have dramatic impact on not only consumer behaviour, see our blog about how Alexa has changed the household but also within the business and third sectors.
With Siri, Cortana and Alexa, there is without doubt a voice revolution. The Waracle team keep a close working knowledge of each technology but over the last few weeks decided to run an internal competition focused specifically on ideas for potential future Alexa skills.
#WaracleHacks are team competitions which we run and the challenges always feature new technology for the teams to learn, experiment with and develop new prototypes. Open to all teams across Scotland located in our offices across Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee. Waracle teams are fairly competitive when it comes to #WaracleHacks and the team love working together to foster their creativity – particularly when they can exhibit their new technical skills to each other and then potentially showcase to clients.
Given the recent success of our UK Amazon Alexa Skill meetups, there was great enthusiasm to participate when we launched the competition. The team were keen to explore the potential future applications of voice and put their new Alexa dev skills into action. And, it wasn’t just mobile app developers keen to take part, we had sales and creative team members turn their hand to imagining and coding a skill! After all, who wouldn’t want a chance to learn how to build their own skill for Alexa?
Five teams participated in the competition and the judges were amazed at the talent and complexity of the entries, which actually made judging all the harder! After brainstorming how applications of voice could make peoples’ lives easier in future, the teams were quick off the mark to start their skills and quick to overcome any challenges in setting up the server to handle the intent from Alexa and working out the exact way to respond to Alexa from the AWS Lambda function.
Team 1: My Spelling Alexa Skill
This skill gives people an alternative way of making learning to spell—ideal for primary school kids and their parents! With a skill like this, Alexa could, in theory, be used to test kids and help them develop their spelling ability over time.
Team 2: Smart Carer Alexa Skill
This provides a voice interface to a remote smart home care solution. It’s designed for carers and allows people to use their voice to check in on people they care for. e.g. users can ask Alexa to “Ask Smart Carer how Grandad is getting on”, and the skill returns an answer, based on data analysed from the user’s smart home.
Team 3: Tay Road Bridge Information Skill
This gives anyone looking for information about the Tay Bridge the ability to quickly ask Alexa without needing to look up the Tay Bridge web page or Twitter feed. Alexa returns an answer based on the latest, real-time information available on the site.
Team 4: Who’s Off Skill
This skill gives all staff of companies who use Who’s Off Staff Leave Management Software the ability to find out who is on holiday in the least possible steps. The idea is that you would just ask Alexa reads the information based on the data in the system.
Team 5: Sprint Planning in Jira Skill
This skill idea facilitates voice control for Atlassian’s Jira product, specifically around sprint planning and is targeted at scrum masters. Being able to speak to Alexa to update Jira frees users from the computer during sprint planning.
Each team had 10 minutes to present their skill to the judging panel and 10 minutes of questions from the judges. The judging panel included representatives from Amazon and Waracle.
Max Amordeluso, Lead Evangelist for Alexa in Europe, said: “Taking part in this hackathon has been an energising experience .We love hearing about the potential applications for voice in future, and the calibre of the potential skill ideas was highly encouraging. It was also very exciting to see the rapid progress the teams made building their ideas in a short amount of amount of time using standard ASK tools, and we were delighted to see such a high level of enthusiasm for Alexa and voice in general. We’re looking forward to seeing more great ideas for skills that could benefit customers in future.”
After much consideration, the winner was announced as Balint Polgar, Software Tester, Dundee, Scotland with his Tay Bridge Information Skill which is now available on Alexa already rated with 5 stars! If you’re a regular commuter over the River Tay then you must add this skill to your Echo! The skill showed a great example of how voice today can help in providing a very quick answer to one simple question. It clearly, based on our weather in the UK, could be used very frequently, only requires one question as opposed to a number of clicks and adds great value to the user by removing friction. With Amazon we’re already looking at how this skill could be adapted to be used by other similar weather dependant facilities.
Without exception each team involved gained great learnings from the competition and incredible feedback from Amazon. Can’t wait for our next #WaracleHack now!
At Waracle mobile app development we’re key advocates of voice and see it slotting in as one of the many digital products that will continue to evolve how we live with technology. With some great use cases for brands to tackle on Alexa, isn’t it time your brand looked into the possibilities of voice? You need to be prepared for the next generation who are being brought up surrounded by voice technology, IoT and augmented reality. Contact us today!