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December 08, 2016

Ted Karczewski

We’re excited to announce the Conexant AudioSmart™ 2-Mic Development Kit for Amazon AVS, a commercial-grade reference solution that streamlines the design and implementation of audio front end systems. This solution works with our updated Java sample client for Raspberry Pi, which also includes music certification enhancements. This kit features Conexant’s AudioSmart™ CX20921 Voice Input Processor with a dual microphone board and Sensory’s TrulyHandsfree™ wake word engine tuned to “Alexa”. 

Learn more about Conexant’s AudioSmart™ 2-Mic Development Kit for Amazon AVS

“Conexant’s AudioSmart 2-Mic Development Kit for Amazon AVS unlocks serious voice capture capabilities, allowing developers to achieve a far better AVS user experience through voice processing technologies that overcome acoustic and distance challenges,” said Steve Rabuchin, Vice President Amazon Alexa. “Utilizing Conexant’s AVS solutions will help third-party manufacturers quickly innovate with Alexa.” 

[Read More]

December 07, 2016

David Isbitski

Earlier in the year, we introduced built-ins with 15 different intents (such as Stop, Cancel, Help, Yes, No) and 10 slot types (such as Date, Number, City, etc.) that made it easier for developers to create voice interactions.  Today, the US preview of our new Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) built-in library is available to developers. This expands the library to hundreds more slots and intents covering new domains including books, video and local businesses. We chose these based on feedback from our developer community, as well as our own learnings with Alexa over the past year.

When you’re building a skill, it’s challenging to think of all the different ways your customers might ask the same question or express the same idea – all of which your skill would ideally need to understand. The new built-in intents and slots reduce your heavy-lifting by providing a pre-built model. For example, just including the following statement “SearchAction” makes your skill understand a customer’s request for phone numbers for local businesses. 

Customer usage and your feedback is important for us to improve the accuracy of the library, which will increase over the course of the preview. To provide feedback during this developer preview or submit your questions, visit our Alexa Skills Kit developer forums, create a question, and use the “built-in library” topic. We appreciate your help!

Getting Started

The built-in intent library gives you access to built-in intents that fall into categories, such as the weather forecast which I will walk through below (check out the full list of categories here). You can use these intents to add functionality to your skill without providing any sample utterances. Using one of these new built-in intents in your skill is similar to using a standard built-in intent like AMAZON.HelpIntent:

  1. Add the intent name to your intent schema.
  2. Implement a handler for the intent in your code.

The differences are:

  • Intents in the library are named according to a structure using actions, entities, and properties. Understanding this naming convention can help you understand the purpose and use of each intent.
  • Intents in the library also have slots for providing additional information from the user’s utterance. The slots are provided automatically, so you do not define them in the intent schema. In contrast, the standard built-in intents like AMAZON.HelpIntent cannot use slots.

Our weather example would have an intent schema like this:
 

{

  "intents": [

    {

      "intent": "AMAZON.SearchAction"

    }

  ]

}

Although no slots are defined in the above schema, an utterance like “what’s the weather today in Seattle” would send your skill a request with slots containing today’s date and the city “Seattle.”

These intents are designed around a set of actions, entities, and properties. The name of each intent combines these elements into an intent signature. In the above example the action is SearchAction, its property is object, and the entity is WeatherForecast.

[Read More]

December 06, 2016

Zoey Collier

On November 18, the first episode of The Grand Tour series marked the most-watched premiere in Amazon’s video streaming service’s history. British car enthusiasts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May returned to the screen for an all-new series of globetrotting adventures. Each episode takes Amazon Prime Video viewers to another exotic location.

For Amazon Alexa users, watching The Grand Tour is only half the fun. Prior to the series premiere, Amazon debuted a companion skill built by PullString on the Alexa Store, available to its US and UK customers.

Each Thursday, prior to the show’s Friday airtime, The Grand Tour skill provides a new clue about what to watch for in the upcoming video episode. On Saturday, if viewers are truly “on the tour” and answer three trivia questions correctly, they’ll unlock exclusive video content.

The fun aside, what makes the skill unique is another first: the PullString Platform on which it was developed.

Developing conversational experiences with Alexa

Mike Houlahan, head of PullString’s enterprise partner program, explains Oren Jacob and Martin Reddy co-founded the company in 2011. The two Pixar Animation veterans’ vision was to build lasting emotional connections between characters and audiences using two-way computer conversations. They noted an absence of professional toolsets for building conversational experiences between a character and its audience, and they set about filling that gap.

The PullString Platform is an all-in-one environment that lets developers and authors create award-winning conversational experiences, like the Lt. Reyes chatbot from Call of Duty and Hello Barbie.

Now, the company makes the power of the PullString Platform available to Alexa developers. “We are very excited to launch The Grand Tour skill,” Houlahan said. “We are simultaneously announcing the availability of PullString for the Alexa Developer Community to build their own Alexa skills.”

The PullString Platform includes:

  • A professional conversation authoring and debugging environment
  • A conversational AI engine to interpret and drive the interaction
  • Text message and bot conversation support
  • A platform to host the experience
  • Direct publishing to the Alexa environment

Learn more about the PullString Platform.

Creating The Grand Tour skill

With the PullString Platform, a creative writer can prototype, develop, test and deploy an entire skill without writing a single line of code. That’s just what Danielle Frimer did.

Frimer is the creative writer who scripted the voice interaction model (VUI) for The Grand Tour Alexa skill using PullString. She worked with Amazon Prime Video to get the show’s actors into the recording booth to record dialog, and put it all together using the PullString Platform.

“I am not a developer in any way,” says Frimer. “With the platform, I could focus my attention on the creative aspects of it—the lines, the flow of things, the overall design—not on the underlying nuts and bolts of it.”

The skill’s design mimics the flow of The Grand Tour’s episode rollout. The voice interaction, of course, is peppered with the recorded dialog, making the experience even more engaging.

Frimer says PullString’s templates and documentation give developers a quick-start on different types of conversation projects. In all cases, it relieves both authors and developers of the complicated logic involved with a complex VUI model.  

[Read More]

December 02, 2016

Marion Desmazieres

The name of Harrison Kinsley may not ring a bell but if you’re into Python programming you’ve probably heard the name “Sentdex”. With over 125,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel and about 800 free tutorials on his associated website, Harrison has become a reference for learning materials on Python programming.

Today, we’re excited to share a new Alexa skills tutorial for Python programmers available for free on PythonProgramming.net with companion video screencasts to follow along. This three-part tutorial series provides the instructions and code snippets to build an Alexa skill in Python that goes to the World News subreddit, a popular feed on news aggregator Reddit, and reads the latest headlines. To follow along, you will need an Alexa-enabled devicengrok or an https enabled server, and an Amazon Developer account.

In this tutorial, you can expect to learn:

Get started with the Alexa tutorial series here. For more Python tutorials, head to Harrison’s website.

Happy coding!

Marion

Learn more

Check out these Alexa developer resources:

 

December 02, 2016

Zoey Collier

Tushar Chugh is a graduate student at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). There he studies the latest in robotics, particularly how computer vision devices perceive the world around them.

One of his favorite projects was a robot named Andy. Besides having arms, Andy could discern colors and understand spatial arrangement. Andy could also respond to voice commands, like “pick up the red block and place it on top of the blue block.” Andy’s speech recognition, a CMU framework, was about to change.

When Amazon came to give some lectures at CMU, they had a raffle drawing. Chugh won the drawing and took home a new Amazon Echo as a prize. Over three days and nights without sleep, he completely integrated Andy and Alexa using the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK).

When he saw Hackster’s 2016 Internet of Voice challenge, he knew he had to enter. And in August 2016, Chugh’s Smart Cap won the prize for the Best Alexa Skills Kit with Raspberry Pi category.

The inspiration and genesis of Smart Cap

According to Chugh, there are about 285 million visually-impaired people in the world. In 2012, he worked on a project to help the visually impaired navigate inside a building. His device, a belt with embedded sensing tiles, won a couple of prizes, including a Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Award. It was ahead of its time, though, and it wasn’t yet practical to develop the technology into a commercial product.

A lot can change in four years, including Chugh’s discovery of Alexa. Besides dabbling with Alexa and Andy the robot, he has also worked with Microsoft Cognitive Services for image recognition. Chugh now saw a chance to bring a new and better “seeing device” to light.

“When I saw Alexa, I thought we can extend it and integrate [Alexa] as a separate component,” says Chugh. “I talked with a couple of organizations for the blind in India, and they agreed this kind of system would be very, very useful. That was my main motivation.”

Chugh says the hardware for the Smart Cap is basic. He used a Raspberry Pi (RPi), a battery pack, a camera and a cap on which to mount it. As for the software, it included:

  • Alexa Skills Kit (ASK)
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • DynamoDB
  • Microsoft Cognitive Services (MSCS)
  • Custom Python code to run RPi to interface with the camera and MSCS

The goal was straightforward. A visually-impaired user could ask Alexa what is in front of them. Alexa would vocalize the scene, allowing the person to navigate safely wherever he or she may be.

How the Smart Cap works

How do the pieces all fit together?

Chugh says there are two distinct parts.

First, the image capture and analysis:

  • As the Smart Cap wearer walks down the street, a Python script on the RPi directs the camera to take pictures every two seconds.
  • Another program sends the image to MSCS using RPi’s WiFi / phone connection.
  • MSCS returns a text description of the image with relevant keywords.
  • The description is stored on RPi, then sent via AWS to be stored on DynamoDB.

Now comes the Alexa skill:

  • The wearer says “Alexa, ask Smart Cap to describe the scene” or “Alexa, ask Smart Cap what is in front of me”.
  • The skill uses AWS Lambda to retrieve and parse the latest value from DynamoDB.
  • Alexa responds with the description and keywords via the speaker or bone conduction headphones.
[Read More]

December 01, 2016

Ted Karczewski

The home is rapidly evolving thanks to the proliferation of connected devices and advancements in voice recognition technology. Together, new smart home products and voice control services are giving customers greater control over their homes.

Amazon and Intel see a tremendous opportunity to bring the benefits of a personal voice experience to millions of new consumers and are collaborating to encourage developers and device manufacturers to extend natural voice interaction to more products via Amazon Alexa.

The collaboration will enable partners to build new devices with Alexa using an Intel-based smart speaker form factor reference design coming in Q1 2017, as well as make it easier to create skills that work with the Intel-based Smart Home Hub.

Enabling Product Development with Intel and Amazon Alexa

Intel is working with Amazon to deliver smart speaker form factor reference designs (FFRD) with Alexa that make it easier for device manufacturers to build products with high-performance, far-field voice interaction. The first FFRD will be available starting in Q1 2017 and will offer device makers:

  • Accelerated development of Alexa voice-enabled smart speakers on Intel architecture.
  • Voice as the primary interface, allowing Alexa skills developers to build capabilities that reach even more end users.
  • Requisite speakers and microphone arrays expected from smart speakers, as well as the home radios that support the standards needed for PAN connectivity in the home, including Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Z-Wave, and Bluetooth, and is extensible enough to add video capabilities and environment sensors for an all-in-one customer experience.
  • An SDK that enables developers to add voice and video capabilities to connected products.

The FFRD combines Intel’s platform technology advancements with Amazon’s ever-smarter Alexa Voice Service to accelerate innovation among device manufacturers and the developers building new skills for all Alexa-enabled products. 

[Read More]

December 01, 2016

Ted Karczewski

We are excited to announce a new addition to the Alexa family—JAM Voice.

JAM Voice is a portable speaker system with Alexa that serves as a complete hub for music and information. It’s a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-connected speaker that features touch-activated integration with the Alexa Voice Service (AVS), giving customers the ability to push a button and just ask Alexa to play music, check the weather, get the news, or even order a pizza.

Whether entertaining a group of friends or relaxing after work, the JAM Voice system can play music from one or many rooms in the house. You can pair multiple speakers when connected to Wi-Fi, streaming music from Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn just by asking Alexa. The Alexa integration also makes it easy for customers to access thousands of third-party skills, built using the Alexa Skills Kit, including smart home controls through Philips Hue, Belkin Wemo, SmartThings, Insteon, and Wink.

Buy JAM Voice on Amazon.com now.

Getting Started with AVS

Alexa is always getting smarter with new capabilities and services through machine learning. Your product also gains access to new capabilities with Alexa through API updates, feature launches, and custom skills. Learn how AVS can add rich voice-powered experiences to your connected products, and read how some of our partners below have integrated with Alexa already:

Have questions? We’re here to help. Visit us on the AVS Forum or Alexa GitHub to speak with one of our experts.

AVS is coming soon to the UK and Germany. Read the full announcement here.

 

November 30, 2016

David Isbitski

Update December 7, 2016: Today we announced the US preview of our new Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) built-in library is available to developers. Learn more >

A year and a half ago, we released the Alexa Skills Kit, and we’ve seen developers are eager to build skills and learn to build voice experiences. Developers like yourself have published over 5,000 skills, up from just over 100 at the beginning of the year. These skills are available on millions of Alexa-enabled devices in the US, UK and Germany.  

Introducing the Alexa Skills Kit Built-in Library

Today we announced that we will roll out a library of hundreds of new intents and slots as part of the Alexa Skills Kit in developer preview in the coming weeks (US only). These new slots and intents are the product of learnings over the last year for Alexa’s natural language understanding (NLU) that help Alexa better understand and reply to requests. With the new built-in library, we have combined those learnings with the most common requests we have seen from the developer community to offer hundreds of built-ins for use in your own skills. This is just a start and we will continue to increase the set of built-in functionality and improve their accuracy as we get feedback from all of you.  

What are Built-Ins?

With built-in intents and slot types, you do not need to provide sample utterances to train Alexa to understand customers’ intents for your skill. We introduced the concept of built-ins earlier in the year beginning with 15 intents (such as Stop, Cancel, Help, Yes, No) and 10 slot types (such as Date, Number, City, etc.). As part of the Alexa Skills Kit we now are introducing a new built-in library that provides hundreds of built-in intents and slots – for developers as part of the Alexa Skills Kit. The syntax for these built-ins are designed to make integration of these capabilities super simple in your custom skills. 

For example, let’s imagine a custom skill that allows someone to ask for the temperature in a location for the next three days. If we wanted to build this skill previously, we would have to create an interaction model that included a combination of built-in and custom intents for handling how someone would ask the question. Most likely this would include built-in slot types for city and state, a built-in slot type for the number of days, and then a lot of sample utterances to ensure Alexa was accurately understanding the question each time. We also would need to do server side type validation to ensure we were being passed the specific type of data we were looking for.

With the new built-in intents library, weather becomes an object that Alexa knows a lot about, both weather itself and its attributes, but also how a person may ask for the weather. Our interaction model now can be done with no sample utterances and a single intent! We call this new type of interaction an Intent Signature and it includes actions, entities and properties. There are numerous Intent Signatures available for use in your Alexa skills across all sorts of categories.

Stay tuned to learn more about built-in library. For more information about getting started with the Alexa Skills Kit, check out the following:

Alexa Skills Kit (ASK)
Alexa Dev Chat Podcast
Alexa Training with Big Nerd Ranch
Alexa Developer Forums

-Dave (@TheDaveDev)

November 30, 2016

Douglas Booms

For over a year, the Alexa Fund has been investing in promising startups that are fueling speech technology advances and voice application innovation. Today, we are excited to announce the Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars. The accelerator is the first of its kind at Amazon and another initiative from the Alexa Fund to champion builders, developers, and entrepreneurs innovating with voice technology.

The Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars, will focus on Alexa domains, including, but not limited to, such areas as connected home, wearables and hearables, enterprise, communications, connected car, health and wellness, and enabling technologies.  It will also give us the opportunity to work with exciting startups from around the world, and along the way, we expect to see many new applications and innovations we haven’t even imagined.

The Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars, will begin accepting applications to the program in January 2017.  Following a rigorous review process, 10-12 selected finalists will come together in Seattle to take part in an intensive  13-week program, during which time they’ll be matched with mentors from Amazon and Techstars to develop their technologies and business models.  The program begins in July 2017 and comes to an eventfulclose in October 2017 with the Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars Demo Day, giving the companies the opportunity to showcase their products and meet with investors.

The Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars, is part of the fast-growing Alexa Fund, which now includes 22 investments in companies that range from early- to late-stage.  To share more about the accelerator, program leaders from the Alexa Fund and Techstars will host information sessions in places like Seattle, San Francisco, New York City, Boston, London, Berlin, and Tel Aviv over the coming months.  Visit the Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars page to learn more and to stay tuned to updates.

 

November 30, 2016

Ted Karczewski

Consumers want greater control over their homes—the ability to manage not only smart products like their lights and thermostats, but also the services that provide them with connectivity and original content. For service providers, this means tapping into a network that empowers customers with a growing number of capabilities and products built for managing the entire home through voice.

Today, Technicolor and Amazon announced a new collaboration that brings Amazon Web Services and Amazon Alexa together with next generation home gateways from Technicolor that will allow service providers to develop new services for connected homes faster than ever.

Technicolor is a leader in digital innovation for the media and entertainment industry that works with cable, telco and satellite operators to bring bandwidth-intensive experiences into the home. The company sees opportunities for network service providers to build a bridge between cloud and edge technology to introduce new revenue-generating services while making home networks easier to access, manage and configure through voice activated commands.

Technicolor will use AWS for home gateway applications, leverage AWS IoT and Greengrass, integrate Alexa into its new gateway products to allow users to configure network settings and more just by asking, and incorporate Amazon’s Alpine System-on-chip into its new family of gateway products.

What this Means for Network Service Providers and Consumers

The collaboration has clear benefits for both service providers and consumers: NSPs will gain access to a broad developer community through AWS that’s constantly building new applications for the home, improving overall quality of service, customer experience, cost control, while addressing privacy issues by empowering consumers to have greater control over their own information. For consumers, Technicolor’s new services and gateway products will offer the ability to live and interact with connected home services in an easy and natural manner—through voice. This in turn will drive demand for new, more meaningful applications, incentivizing developers to continue to push the bar when working with NSPs.

[Read More]

November 23, 2016

Zoey Collier

In early 2014, Mandy Chan was attending a business conference when she discovered her true calling: emerging technology. A business analyst by training, Mandy started searching for a way she could break into the tech industry, to immerse herself in the technologies disrupting every industry. She researched online, frequented bookstores, and eventually decided to teach herself JavaScript programming.

Barely a year later, Mandy attended the Technica Hack ‘15—and won the JP Morgan Chase prize for best mobile app. For Mandy, that event started a new career. After participating alongside so many eager and helpful programmers, she knew what she wanted to do.

Just 11 months later, Mandy has won three more hackathons, including NY TechCrunch ‘16 and Manhattan AngelHack ’16. But unlike her first contest, all these prizes were for Alexa skills.

A hackathon skill helping users around the world

Mandy first discovered Amazon Echo while attending a 2016 developer conference in San Francisco. She watched a team working with an Echo, and it instantly appealed to her interests in both back-end software development and artificial intelligence. “It was like having my code right in front of me. I talked to my code, and the code kind of talked back to me,” says Mandy.

The day before TechCrunch New York in May, Mandy dove into all the online Alexa Skills Kit documentation she could find. The next day, nervous but determined, she created the prototype that became the Dr. Speech skill—and won the Best Use of Alexa prize.

Mandy, originally from Hong Kong, wanted to help others improve their pronunciation of challenging words, so she created a skill called Dr. Speech, which helps non-native English speakers pronounce words accurately, thereby giving them more confidence without expensive speech therapy sessions.

Mandy gets tweets from people around the world thanking her for how Dr. Speech has been instrumental in improving their pronunciation and has also inspired other developers to build self-improvement skills. Similarly, a user of Mood Journal—another of Mandy’s Alexa skills—wrote to say it helped him in battling anxiety and depression.

Humbled, Mandy repeats she loves to write software that helps people. “Every skill I write is an extension of me. Dr. Speech is about improving speech, because I strive to be a great speaker. I never imagined how my skills would have touched so many people.”

[Read More]

November 21, 2016

Ted Karczewski

We’re excited to introduce “Powered by Linkplay,” a turn-key audio solution that comes with an Alexa Voice Service (AVS) integration. With “Powered by Linkplay,” OEMs now have a quick and cost-effective way to launch Wi-Fi speaker products with Amazon Alexa.

The built-in Alexa experience allows customers to ask Alexa for weather reports, traffic updates, Flash Briefings, and to play their favorite music. Linkplay also gives manufacturers the ability to offer end users access to a range of streaming music providers, including Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Spotify, TIDAL, Napster, and more. Best of all, “Powered by Linkplay” makes it easy to pair multiple speakers together to play music throughout the home.

OEMs that use the Linkplay audio solution to power their speaker products also gain access to thousands of Alexa skills, new features and capabilities through regular AVS API updates, and smart home controls with partners such as Philips Hue, Belkin Wemo, SmartThings, Insteon, and Wink.

Here are a few products that use the new “Powered by Linkplay” solution:

Contact Linkplay by email if you're interested in building a product with the "Powered by Linkplay" solution.

Getting Started with AVS

Not a speaker manufacturer? Alexa is always getting smarter with new capabilities and services. Learn how AVS can add rich voice-powered experiences to your connected products, and read how some of our partners below have integrated with Alexa already:

New to voice user interface design? See how the technology works by building your own Amazon Alexa prototype for Raspberry Pi.

Have questions? We’re here to help. Visit us on the AVS Forum or Alexa GitHub to speak with one of our experts.

AVS is coming soon to the UK and Germany. Read the full announcement here.

November 18, 2016

Zoey Collier

Developers have created thousands of skills for Alexa, expanding Alexa’s capabilities and offering consumers novel new voice experiences. We recently unveiled a new way for customers to browse the breadth of the Alexa skills catalog by surfacing Alexa skills on Amazon.com.

Today we are introducing a new program that allows you to nominate your favorite Alexa skills to be featured in our Community Favorites campaign. Skills that are nominated and meet the selection criteria will be featured in the Alexa app and on Amazon.com in December. This is a great way to help customers everywhere discover new, intriguing and innovative skills on their Alexa-enabled devices.

What’s your favorite Alexa skill? Take a minute to tell us your favorite Alexa skill and help others discover an engaging and innovative skill to try.

 


Get Started with Alexa Skills Kit

Are you ready to build your first (or next) Alexa skill? Build a custom skill or use one of our easy tutorials to get started quickly.

Share other innovative ways you’re using Alexa in your life. Tweet us @alexadevs with hashtag #AlexaDevStory.

 

November 17, 2016

Bertrand Vacherot

We are happy to announce the Amazon Alexa Hack the Dorm Contest for university students. This is our first challenge in collaboration with MindSumo, a company that focuses on giving students first-hand experience with industry projects.

As voice technology becomes ubiquitous around us, new and current developers are quickly learning about voice user interfaces (VUI). As a student, you are well positioned to create intuitive ways for people to interact with technology and can make a big impact on the interfaces of tomorrow. This contest is your chance to show customers on millions of Alexa-enabled devices what you can build using the Alexa Skills Kit.

To win, you will build a new voice-activated Alexa skill for your university dorm. The winners will create a new skill that makes life easier and better in a university dorm. From improving accessibility features, to creating integrations with your entertainment system, or even making homework more efficient, all domains and interests will be considered. Entries will be judged on their usefulness and creativity among a few other criteria. The best part; no hardware is necessary to do this. If you do not have an Alexa-enabled device, you can test your skill with Alexa right in your browser and begin building your skill right away. See the full contest rules here.

Here is what you can win:

  • First place: $1,000 and an Amazon Echo.
  • Second place: $300 and an Amazon Tap.
  • Third place: $300 and an All-New Echo Dot (2nd Generation).
  • The first 10 submissions to publish their skills and submit a contest entry here and who are not selected as first, second or third place winners will receive an Amazon Tap.
  • Everyone who publishes a skill is eligible for a limited edition Alexa Developer hoodie.

The contest begins today and will close on December 31st at 11:59:59 PM PST. Winners will be announced on or around January 31st, 2017.

Get started here. We can’t wait to see what you build.

Restrictions may apply, see the contest rules on MindSumo’s page.

About the Alexa Skills Kit

The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) enables developers to easily build capabilities, called skills, for Alexa. ASK includes self-service APIs, documentation, templates, and code samples to get developers on a rapid road to publishing their Alexa skills.

November 16, 2016

Marion Desmazieres

Three months ago, we launched Alexa Champions, a recognition program designed to honor the most engaged developers and contributors in the community. Through their passion and knowledge for Alexa, these individuals educate and inspire other developers in the community – both online and offline.

Today we’re excited to recognize ten new Alexa Champions and to showcase their contributions to the Alexa community on our dedicated gallery. We thank them for all the knowledge they have shared with others and for the tools they have created to make it easier for developers to use the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and Alexa Voice Service (AVS).

Meet the new Alexa Champions

Join me in extending a warm welcome to the newest Alexa Champions:

  • Andrea Bianco is an active advocate of Alexa in the smart home arena, with dozens of in-home implementations of the Smart Home Skill API and counting. You’ll often find her sharing Alexa knowledge at home automation events, or making feature suggestions in the weekly ASK Developer Office Hours. Learn more about Andrea.
  • Darian Johnson won second place in the Best AVS with Raspberry Pi segment of Alexa’s Internet of Voice challenge on Hackster.io with his Mystic Mirror skill. He continues to contribute to the Alexa community by sharing the source code to his projects, providing feedback to other developers, and blogging about expanding the use of Alexa in his home. Learn more about Darian.
  • Hicham Tahiri got involved in Alexa skill building in 2015 and crafted a developer toolbox offering a visual conversation design tool with automatic code generation, a community-generated intents library and a voice simulator. He shares his knowledge of voice interfaces, ASK and AVS with the Alexa meetup group he manages in Paris. Learn more about Hicham.
  • Joel Evans is the founder of the Boston Echo / Alexa Developers meetup. He regularly creates skills for demonstrations at meetups, presentations, and client meetings for his company, Mobiquity that has developed many skills, both as proof of concepts to share with clients or as published skills in the Alexa catalog for global brands. Learn more about Joel.
  • Leor Grebler enables developers to quickly create Alexa voice interactions with the Ubi Portal, a voice prototyping tool, and to test them with the Ubi App for Android powered by the Alexa Voice Service. He shares his knowledge of voice interfaces, ASK, and AVS in daily Medium blog posts and with the Ubiquitous Voice Society Toronto Meetup group he manages. Learn more about Leor.
  • Mandy Chan is a serial skill builder who won multiple hackathons with Alexa projects. She gives back to the ASK community by publishing open source projects such as the SSML-Builder npm package and the Alexa-Hackathon-Quick-Starter on GitHub. She also volunteers for the NYC Amazon Alexa Meetup. Learn more about Mandy.
  • Oscar Merry has worked with the Alexa technology since November 2015, designing and implementing prototypes for clients across a number of industries and use cases with his voice design agency, Opearlo. He’s been running the London Alexa Devs meetup since July 2016. Learn more about Oscar.
  • Ryan Kroonenburg created the “Alexa development for absolute beginners” courses for A Cloud Guru which allows beginner developers and non-developers to learn how to build skills. He regularly shares his passion for Alexa at events like ServerlessConf and the Alexa Devs Dublin meetup. Learn more about Ryan.
  • Terren Peterson built multiple Alexa skills, including Hurricane Center which one third place in the first Amazon Alexa Skill Contest on Hackster.io. He integrated AVS with a Raspberry Pi to create a voice activated pitching machine that won first place in the Best ASK with Raspberry Pi segment of Alexa’s Internet of Voice challenge on Hackster.io. Learn more about Terren.
  • Tilmann Böhme started the Amazon Alexa Meetup in Berlin to bring people interested in voice interfaces together and to contribute to building a strong Alexa community in Germany. He is regularly invited to give presentations about Alexa and voice interfaces. Learn more about Tilmann.

Get involved

There are many ways you can share educational and inspiring content about AVS and ASK with the Alexa community through your own blog or newsletter, open-source development tools, tutorials, videos or podcasts and social media. You can also organize local meetup groups for like-minded Alexa enthusiasts and developers.

[Read More]

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