We wanted to make a skill for Amazon's Alexa. We thought that health-care was an interesting sector. One of our team members has a nut allergy. A common question is "can I eat ...". It would be useful if when in your home, Alexa could easily answer this question.

What it does

This is an Alexa 'skill' that lets you ask if a food is ok for you to eat based on an allergy profile that you make.

How we built it

First, we experimented with different food APIs to see which one would give us enough allergen information. We made a codepen to visualise these API's output.

We used AWS Lambda to host the Node.js backend that included the Alexa SDK and a custom wrapper for the food label SDK. We used Firebase DB by Google to store user allergen profiles.

Challenges we ran into

AWS Lambda is terrible at giving meaningful errors and also seems to have patchy support for new JavaScript ES6.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We were able to pass arbitrary length strings to Alexa and pass the data to an API. This proved quite difficult.

What we learned

Some members learned JavaScript for the first time. We got better at collaborating with Git and Github and learned how to use the Alexa SDK.

What's next for Alexa Allergens

We'd like to provide more 'sample utterances' so we can interact with it in different and more human-like ways. Hopefully we'll be able to publish the skill.

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