Inspiration

Two years ago my grandmother (technically my wife's grandmother) fell down in her basement and broke her hip. She ended up lying down there for nearly an hour before my father-in-law realized that she never came up. She had been calling to him and her husband to no avail. Neither of the grandparents seemed to like the idea of wearing a life alert nor spend the outrageous monthly fees on one. With my Alexa skill, your loved one can have the same protection for a fraction of the cost.

What it does

Using the Twilio API, when the Alexa skill is invoked, the next words one says will be transcribed and texted to a loved one or caregiver.

How I built it

The code was written in node.js using Twilio's API. Most of it luckily was very boilerplate.

Challenges I ran into

While the function was fairly boilerplate, there were quite a few issues getting the API to work with the Twilio account. I had originally planned on group SMS being sent out, so say a whole family could be notified but there are limitations to Twilio's free account. Also, this was the first time I ever used the Alexa SDK as well node.js and Twilio's api. 90% of my time was reading the documentation and watching Alexa tutorials on LinkedIn learning and Pluralsight.

There's also the issue with keywords. If the end-user starts off a statement with "help" as in "help I've fallen and I can't get up," Alexa seems to think it's a keyword and will cause the skill to not function as it should.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

While the app is extremely simple, the second I was able to get it to push a text message notification to my phone I was overjoyed! It made the frustration of trying to come up with a health-related problem and offering a solution on a platform I had no experience in worth it! MASSIVE RUSH!

What I learned

While I'm no expert, I have a much better understanding of Node.Js and making backend work with front end applications. I also learned how to implement Twilio into an app which was also very exciting.

What's next for Alexa Emergency App

I want to find a more cost-effective alternative to Twilio so I can push out multiple text messages to multiple family members. I would also like to add more interactivity to the skill. So say when grandma forgets to take her medication or takes too much it will notify a first responder or emergency service to quickly come to the rescue. I would also like to move away from using boilerplate code to better optimize it and add more functionality.

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