Inspiration

While we work to make more connected experiences in the world, our office itself does not leverage connected technology in places that could easily be connected to improve usability and the overall experience. In our office, there are many times when a spontaneous call or meeting turns up, and a private meeting room is essential. Because of how many steps it takes to book a meeting room through Google Calendars, this step is often skipped resulting in people occupying unbooked meeting rooms, causing overall confusion.

We strive to reduce the number of steps to quickly book a meeting room and to lay the groundwork for creating more connected meeting rooms.

What it does

Alexa Office Assistant is a suite of office improvements that leverage a myriad of different technologies and platforms to improve usability and overall user experience.

  1. Alexa Meeting Room Booking
    Using a combination of raspberry pis, bluetooth, and beacons we've created an ad-hoc meeting room reservation workflow with two separate entry points. Either ask Alexa to book you a meeting room, or walk up to a meeting room and person and tap your phone to the raspberry pi room sensors with our partner app open. Meeting room status can be viewed either from the connected dashboard or from the coloured LEDs mounted on the room's raspberry pi.

  2. Alexa Standups
    Submit company announcements to Alexa before 9 AM and get it read out by Alexa at our standup. Alexa uses an Apple TV app to display information she has received in a fashion that is visible to the company, and persists these announcements throughout the day to let those that miss standup read up on announcements that they may have otherwise missed.

  3. Connected Dashboard Connected Dashboard is an Apple TV app that displays various office related news and metrics, as well as facilitate standup announcements. The dashboard consists of two screens, the first for during standup where announcements are displayed in larger font for maximum readability from a distance, and a secondary passive screen to be displayed throughout the day. This screen would hold meeting room availability status, basic time and weather information, and recapped highlights of company announcements from the morning's standup.

Why use Alexa for this?

For every use-case, we outlined, we came to the conclusion that voice control offers more benefits than any other conventional method of control. Meeting room bookings are specifically targeted towards unplanned or spontaneous meeting room requirements. The major issue with the current system stems from the number of steps required to book a room making, ultimately encouraging ignorance of room booking. Alexa's simple interface allows us to skip all the steps and book meeting rooms without touching a device. Standups are best suited for Alexa as they are a very routine procedure that works well with a programmatic solution. This pairs extraordinarily well with the fact that Alexa provides a clear and coherent system for distribution of information through audio.

Challenges we ran into

  1. Integrating with so many different technologies provides equally many difficulties as a result of the technology's weaknesses

  2. Architecting for multiple technologies in a limited time constraint can often be challenging

Why we're awesome

The sheer number of integrations we've built out is ridiculous for a 24 hour span. We've also built several impressive components used in our final product including an interfacer for the Google Calendar API, and a fully functioned raspberry pi with working LEDs and bluetooth.

What's next for Alexa Office Assistant

  1. Improvements on the current existing systems
  2. Extensions to create a more connected office
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