Alexa Blogs

Alexa Blogs

Want the latest?

alexa topics

Recent Posts

Archive

Showing posts by Emily Roberts

August 02, 2016

Emily Roberts

For inspiration on developing innovative Alexa skills, check out the Wayne Investigation, a skill developed by Warner Bros. to promote the recently released Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice feature film. In this audio-only, interactive adventure game, you’re transported to Gotham City a few days after the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents. You play the part of a detective, investigating the crime and interrogating interesting characters, with Alexa guiding you through multiple virtual rooms, giving you choices, and helping you find important clues.

The game, created using the Alexa Skills Kit, is collaboration between Amazon, Warner Bros., head writers at DC Comics, and Cruel & Unusual Films (the production house run by Batman v Superman’s director Zack Snyder and executive producers Debbie Snyder and Wes Coller). With these companies behind the game and its affiliation with a superhero film franchise, it’s not surprising that The Wayne Investigation was a big hit.

But it’s become enormously popular on its own accord. Launched on March 1, this was the first Alexa skill to combine Alexa technology with produced audio assets—namely, compelling music and sound effects—and the response has been extraordinary. During its first week, the Wayne Investigation was engaged 7x more (per weekly average) than all other skills combined. Currently the Wayne Investigation rates in the top 5% of skills (earning 4.8 out of 5 stars) and is the #1 skill for both total time spent engaging with the skill and average time spent per user.

The team scripted the experience by building it around a gaming map with directions and actions in each room. Once the script was finalized, they used a decision tree model to translate the experience into code, which is hosted in AWS. From three starting actions, users can make up to 37 decisions, each taking the user down paths that lead to new and iconic Gotham characters and locations before completing the game. An efficient (and lucky) walkthrough of the Wayne Investigation takes 5 to 10 minutes, but fans who want to explore every nook and cranny can spend as long as 40 minutes in this Gotham City.

An added benefit of creating the Wayne Investigation skill is that it led to the creation of a tool that allows developers to graphically design interactive adventure games. Today, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve made a tool with source code available to make it easier for the Alexa community to create similar games.

To experience the skill, simply enable it in your Alexa companion app and then say, “Alexa, open the Wayne Investigation.”

 

June 16, 2016

Emily Roberts

Experiences designed around the human voice will fundamentally improve the way people use technology. The Alexa Fund—named for the cloud-based voice service that powers Amazon Echo—provides up to $100 million in investments to fuel voice technology innovation from developers, manufacturers, and start-ups of all sizes.

Today, Alexa Fund recipient Luma Inc. announced that its home WiFi system is available for purchase and will begin shipping to preorder customers. Luma’s routers create a mesh network that surround the home with fast and secure internet to eliminate dead zones and buffering and to safeguard connected devices. You can pre-order your Luma device today on Amazon.com for $149. Luma also plans to create fun and unique Alexa skills for Luma customers. The skill will be released in the coming weeks and will initially allow Luma customers to pause and unpause their home internet.

“It’s exciting to see Luma’s vision to bring better and faster WiFi to customers come to life with the availability of its first home system,” said Steve Rabuchin, Vice President, Amazon Alexa. “We saw great promise in Luma to push forward IOT and voice technologies when we invested in the company through the Alexa Fund. The addition of an Alexa skill will bring increased functionality and make it seamless for customers to better control their home internet through their voice.”    

Alexa Fund Companies

Luma joins 16 companies—Sutro, Invoxia, Petnet, Musaic, Rachio, Scout Alarm, Garageio, Toymail, Dragon Innovation, MARA, Mojio, TrackR, OrangeChef, Kitt.ai, and Ring—that have already received investments from the Alexa Fund. And, recipients MARA, Rachio, Mojio, Garageio, and Scout Alarm have already launched new skills for Alexa. Most recently, MARA Running Assistant released their skill for Alexa that makes it easy to interact with MARA Running Assistant, a hands-free voice-controlled assistant that will support and coach you while you exercise. Customers can ask the skill questions like “Alexa, ask MARA how many miles have I run so far this week?”

[Read More]

April 29, 2016

Emily Roberts

Alexa is the cloud-based voice service that powers Amazon Echo. Companies can add new skills to Alexa using the Alexa Skills Kit. The Alexa Fund is a $100M investment fund to fuel innovation in voice technology. Both were announced in June 2015.

After the birth of their first son, Joel Wetzel and his wife decided to start running as a way to get out of the house and get healthy. He soon grew tired of squinting at a watch screen on dark mornings or pulling his mobile phone out of his pocket to check his times or adjust settings. He saw a way to combine his passion for voice design with a love of a healthy lifestyle. Joel is the CEO and Founder of MARA, an intelligent, voice-based running assistant that provides performance data and training information during exercise, serving as a virtual running coach or personal trainer. MARA launched as a mobile app on iOS in May 2014 and Joel continues to expand MARA’s reach to new technologies.

Investing in the Future with Voice

Joel has been interested in voice interaction since childhood. He was fascinated by HAL from Space Odyssey, KITT on Knight Rider, Data on Star Trek, and the computer on the Starship Enterprise. It was all science fiction back then, but fast forward thirty years and Joel realized that it was something he could help make happen. MARA is a next generation running assistant for smart running. The name of both the app and the assistant, MARA uses cutting-edge voice recognition to proactively coach runners to reach new personal bests. As a personality, MARA provides motivation, encouragement and even competition. With the MARA app, runners can talk to her using their earbuds, ask questions about their speed, pace, location, duration or the weather, ask for music, and track run progress over time.

 “At MARA, our goal is to push digital interaction beyond mere voice commands - to craft conversations, experiences, and personalities,” said Joel. “We were obviously delighted to be selected by the Alexa Fund because our goals are very similar. We want to see voice interactions become pervasive.” 

[Read More]

February 05, 2016

Emily Roberts

It's been a big week for our Alexa developer community. Developers have added over 200 skills to the Alexa platform. Amazon Echo and Fire TV customers can now request a car service with Uber or order a pizza from Domino's — just in time for the Super Bowl. Alexa will also join Alec Baldwin for the #BaldwinBowl, starring in Amazon's first-ever Super Bowl commercial. Watch the videos to see how Alexa is helping Alec plan an epic party.

Alexa, Ask Uber to Get Me a Car

Alexa can now call you a car. Whether you're off to the airport or a big night out, get a reliable ride in minutes. Choose among Uber's various ride options, from low-cost to premium. You can check it out on The Verge or learn more details on the API integration on the Uber developer blog here.

To get started, set your Echo's location under "Settings" in your Alexa App, then enable the Uber skill and link your Uber account. If you don't have an account, you'll be prompted to create one. Once set up, just ask:

Spotify

We also announced this week that Spotify subscribers in the U.S. can now listen to their music on Amazon Echo—just ask Alexa to play any playlist, artist, genre and more from Spotify’s catalog. And because Echo also supports Spotify Connect, customers can easily transfer and control their listening experience from the Spotify app to Echo—just select Echo from the list of available devices within the Spotify app. Then, just ask:

[Read More]

January 07, 2016

Emily Roberts

The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) is a collection of self-service APIs and tools that make it fast and easy for you to add skills to Alexa. Alexa is the cloud-based voice service that powers Amazon Echo, the #1 seller across all $100+ products on Amazon.com on Black Friday. We announced the availability of the Alexa Skills Kit at the end of June and opened up publishing for all developers on October 23rd.

As TechCrunch reported earlier this week, we now have more than 130 third-party skills for Alexa. Recent skill additions enable Amazon Echo and Fire TV customers to play Jeopardy!, get stock quotes with Fidelity, hear headlines from the Huffington Post, exercise with the 7-minute workout, and test their Star Wars knowledge with a trivia quiz from Disney. We’re excited to see a growing number of developers use the Alexa Skills Kit to expand their reach in the living room and connected home.

Since we launched ASK, we focused on rolling out new features and documentation to help developers build skills more easily. Check out the infographic below to learn more about the Alexa program in 2015. Visit the ASK page to get started or sign up for our Alexa newsletter.

 

November 13, 2015

Emily Roberts

Alexa is the voice service that powers Amazon Echo. Companies can add new skills to Alexa using the Alexa Skills Kit. The Campbell’s Kitchen skill was announced at AWS re:Invent in October 2015, and Campbells created custom skinned Echos to celebrate.

Based on their customer research, Campbell’s knew that customers wanted help with a simple question – what should I make for dinner? Born out of that original insight was Campbell’s Kitchen, an online experience that helps customers answer that very question. The site offers healthy recipes, seasonal meal suggestions, and cooking tips, as well as special savings.

Campbell’s Kitchen is already available online and via an app, and after the Alexa Skills Kit launched over the summer, Umang Shah, Director of Digital Marketing and Marketing Innovation at Campbell Soup Company, saw potential to make the content available in the kitchen hands-free. Campbell’s Digital Marketing agency RAIN, who originally pitched the idea to Umang, then set to work creating a skill to make dinnertime easy. The Campbell’s Kitchen skill launched just six weeks later.

[Read More]

October 14, 2015

Emily Roberts

The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) is a collection of self-service APIs and tools that make it fast and easy for you to add skills to Alexa. Alexa is the cloud-based voice service that powers Amazon Echo, a new category of device designed around your voice.  We announced the availability of the Alexa Skills Kit at the end of June, and thousands of developers have started building skills to expand Alexa’s capabilities.

More Features for Developers

Since June, we’ve continued to roll out new features and documentation to help you build more easily. Most recently, we launched a submission checklist to clarify our certification process and help you get your skill certified more quickly. This is the most recent in new Alexa Skills Kit releases for developers. In September, we launched account linking, service simulator, custom slot types and SSML support.

  • Get Certified Faster: Our submission checklist includes an overview of policy and security requirements as well as recommended functional, voice interface and user experience tests.
  • Easily Link Accounts: Allow customers to link their existing account with your service to Alexa by simply visiting the skills tab in the Alexa smartphone app.
  • Test Skills without a Device: Test your skill service without an Alexa-enabled device with the new service simulator by inputting text and view the service input and output on the screen.
  • Create Your Own Custom Slots: Reduce your required utterances by creating custom slots and sets of values for items that are not covered by Amazon’s built-in slot types.
  • Influence Alexa’s Inflection: Support for Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML), gives you additional control over how Alexa generates speech from your text response.
[Read More]

Want the latest?

alexa topics

Recent Posts

Archive