From sleep aids to sustainability tips, budget helpers to chore trackers, chop choppers to calming companions – we’ve been saving time, money, and having a ton of fun checking out the submissions for the Alexa Skills Challenge: Life Hacks. We vetted hundreds of submissions designed to make everyday tasks faster, easier, and more delightful. We tracked new habits. We kept to a budget (finally!). We enjoyed moments of mindfulness. And after much deliberation, we’ve narrowed down the 10 finalists.
It wasn’t easy. We were amazed by the tremendous creativity, novelty, and usefulness in the submissions. Some of the skills were so engaging we couldn’t stop asking for more! Ultimately, we chose the finalists based on their creativity, originality, voice-first customer experience, potential impact, and ability to drive habitual use. Developers around the world submitted hundreds of skills to the Life Hacks Challenge, and we’ve selected 10 finalists who have each won $5,000 and will continue to compete for the $20,000 grand prize and other bonus prizes. To try out one of the finalist skills, just ask, “Alexa, give me a life hack.”
Without further ado, here are the 10 finalists that moved on to the next round.
Ask My Buddy helps you ask for assistance using only your voice, and makes it easy to let your contacts know you are doing ok. Try out Ask My Buddy.
Budget Bot makes budgeting less of a chore, and more like a fun chat. Say things like: “Tell Budget Bot I spent $200 on rent,” or “Ask Budget Bot how much I spent on groceries in the past year.” And you can track your expenses through Alexa, Facebook Messenger, or the companion website, where Budget Bot can view, modify, and visualize your spending. Try out Budget Bot.
Calm Now walks through proven calming techniques such as taking deep breaths, counting to 10, and shaking out your legs like you have a whole bunch of fire ants in your pants. Though originally targeted to kids, this skill is helpful for some adults we know (not naming names). Try out Calm Now.
Chop Chop is a hands-free kitchen companion serving up fun, easy-to-follow tutorials on chopping fresh produce. From the basics to the exotics, Chop Chop’s step-by-step instructions will have you slicing and dicing in no time. Try out Chop Chop.
Eco Hacks provides environmental hacks in the form of truth or dare. Eco Hacks is an engaging way to inspire adults and kids to make simple changes that have positive effects on the planet. Try out Eco Hacks.
House Tracker allows you to win points by logging chores to see if you can be top of your household leaderboard! Try out House Tracker.
Lyfe Trak helps you easily track progress towards your life goals! Just tell Lyfe Trak how you’re doing, and it will take care of the rest. Ask how you’re doing on a specific metric or overall for extra motivation. Try out Lyfe Trak.
Mommy-gram Mommy-gram is designed to keep Mom (or Dad, or anyone for that matter) and kids connected, even when apart. Kids don't need their own cell plan and don't even need to know how to spell! They simply speak their message to Mom, it arrives conveniently as a text message, which Mom can respond to in the form of a notification sent back to the device. Try out Mommy-gram.
My Pod allows you to create your own custom playlists using podcast, audio, text RSS feeds, MP3s (and other Alexa-supported audio streams), internet radio, audio books, and more! You can even add private feeds in the case of subscription-based podcasts. Or link to any web site to get Alexa to read the main content text to you. Try out My Pod.
Start Nagging Me allows Alexa to remind you to do important things like getting out of bed and washing the dishes. The nagging comes every minute and after 10 minutes of being reminded Alexa will check to see if you have done the task. Try out Start Nagging Me.
What’s Next for Our Finalists
Through June 22, we will evaluate customer engagement with each of the finalists’ skills, and then on June 28 our judging panel will evaluate each finalist skill to determine the winner of the $20,000 grand prize. We’ll also evaluate a few additional skills that could potentially win a bonus prize. (As per the official rules: “a Bonus Prize may be awarded to a skill that is not a Finalist Prize winner.”) Ultimately, our panel of judges will determine the winners using their own expertise, as well as customer engagement data, including repeat usage, customer ratings, reviews, and more.
Meet the Judges
Gary Vaynerchuk, Speaker and Best-Selling Author
Gary Vaynerchuk is a best-selling author and internationally recognized personality best known as a digital marketing and social-media pioneer. Gary is a prolific public speaker at global entrepreneurship and technology conferences, delivering keynotes at events like Le Web, and SXSW. He’s also the CEO of modern day communications company VaynerX and CEO of VaynerMedia, a full service digital agency – and one of our preferred Alexa agency resources – with a focus on how brands can reach and engage with customers via emerging technologies, specifically voice. In fact, Gary and VaynerMedia recently hosted VoiceCon, a conference dedicated to emerging voice technologies and opportunities, which drew in more than 500 speakers and attendees.
Emily Price, Writer, Lifehacker.com
Emily Price is a writer for Lifehacker.com, where she covers everything from hacks to keep you organized to how to get the most from your tech. She is also a regular contributor to Fortune, Fast Company, and Paste Magazine. Her first book, Productivity Hacks, is scheduled to be released later this year.
Steve Rabuchin,VP, Amazon Alexa
Steve Rabuchin joined Amazon in 2005 as General Manager of Global Sales, Business Development, and Developer Relations for Amazon Web Services (AWS). Since that time he has held multiple roles in the Kindle organization, helped launch Amazon Local, and managed global developer relations for the Amazon Appstore. In his current role, Steve manages developer relations for Amazon Alexa, including the Alexa Skills Kit and Alexa Voice Service. Before joining Amazon, Steve ran global technical marketing at Rational Software (IBM) and co-founded two startups. Steve earned his BS degree with honors at California State University, Northridge.
Good Luck to the Finalists!
The challenge winners will be announced on June 29. Meanwhile, keep the life hacks skills comin’! Get inspired by the finalists and create your own voice-first life hack skill for Alexa.