Voice powered real estate search

Ask Alexa to find your dream property!

As Alexa becomes steadily smarter and more capable, it's still missing a way to access real estate listings in Germany. The ImmobilienScout24 skill provides Alexa the skill to create a real estate search and read results to the user.

The German property platform ImmobilienScout24 has about 600.000 property listings and 20 million monthly users looking for their next dream apartment or property. Alexa now helps those users to create a real estate search with four easy questions and it will read the most important results to you. Alexa uses the property listings from www.immobilienscout24.de, the leading property platform in Germany, Suisse and Austria. When you link your ImmobilienScout24 account with Alexa, you can ask Alexa to read new results from your last saved search, saving the user valuable time not creating a new search.

Currently, there are about 7.5 million Germans who are functionally illiterate. This ImmobilienScout24 Alexa Skill also enables these users to easily access the property listings and get more information about the real estate market.

What it does

  1. Allows users to create a real estate search and listen to the most current results
  2. Link their Alexa and ImmobilienScout24 accounts
  3. Access new results to their latest saved search

How I built it

I built the skill using node.js, the alexa-sdk, Amazon VUI design best practices and 3-legged OAuth2 authentication mechanisms.

Challenges I ran into

Debugging the link accounts process can become strenuous when no obvious authorization mistake can be found.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

The skills core functionality works - the skill correctly interacts with the ImmobilienScout24 location, authorization and search API. The skill reads the current results clearly and comprehensibly and allows the user to quickly access their last saved search. The skill offers comprehensive help and cancel intents for every mode and prompt. I'm really proud in this solid a solid fundament on which exciting new features can be built upon. It's also important to note that I have not received payment, working time or engineering support from ImmobilienScout24 but that I created the skill solely as part of my university project. Finally I'm proud to say that the users who tested the skill really liked it and that's the most important thing to me. :)

What I learned

I learned to develop an Alexa skill with multiple states and mode handlers. I also learned how 3-legged OAuth2 authentication works and how to handle and submit API calls. I also educated myself about Voice User Interface best practices and how to create a useful dialogue with Alexa.

What's next for this skill

There are many exciting features which could be built upon this skill:

  1. Show entire real estate listing on FireTV or send email with link to exposé to user
  2. Read entire real estate exposé to user
  3. Allow users to contact real estate agent through Alexa
  4. Create a flash briefing skill to push new matching real estate postings to the user
  5. Save a search created through Alexa
  6. Save specific listings to the ImmobilienScout24 account
  7. Describe pictures to users using e.g. Amazon Rekognition, especially important for visually impaired users

Winning a part of this prize would give me the flexibility to continue to work and improve this skill.

Looking forward to your feedback!

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