The team that calls themselves the Vindicators sat around for hours trying to come up with the perfect skill for Alexa. They aimed to bring more ease into the lives of their users whether they knew it or not. With the new year starting and a vast amount of people making their resolutions, the Vindicators aimed to help those who want to get more fit. This thought arose because two of the Vindicators had previously participated in cross country in high school and after four years of running, they both wish that they could have known how many total miles they racked up over their whole careers.
What it does
The My Miles Alexa Skill is a simple, yet useful tool that asks the user for the amount of miles that they ran, jogged, or walked. Over time, the miles add up and the user can ask for daily, weekly, and monthly progress. By doing this, users can see their progress and set new goals to improve their progress.
How we built it
The Vindicators started off on some rocky waters since they are all first time hackers more hardware than software experience. Initially, they started off by using reading and understanding a breakdown of what actually occurs in a user and Alexa interaction. This consisted of hours of reading the tutorial provided by Amazon themselves. The tutorial was very useful and even included a step by step tutorial on how to make a prototype, the cake walk skill. After this was completed, the Vindicators were eager to apply what they learned to create their very own Alexa Skill. They brainstormed for a while before finally coming up with their skill. Finally, the Vindicators began using the amazon web services to synthesize the code that will operate My Miles. Of course, it was not perfect on the first try, but after some tune ups, they finished their product.
Challenges we ran into
There were several challenges that crossed the Vindicators on their path to success. For starters, the team members were unfamiliar with Python and its syntax. This caused several errors which were easily fixed after understanding them. Aside from that, the tutorial used functions that did not necessarily correlate with the goals that My Miles aimed to reach. This rose problems because the functions did not perform as the Vindicators hoped and they were forced to look for alternative ways to reach their goals.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
One of the main accomplishments that we are proud of is that we actually got the device to show some functionality. It did not seem like we were going to get it to work due to several complications but we powered through them and made it work. Aside from that, we are proud to have learned how to implement already existing code so that we can make something work the way we want it to. It was a new learning experience for all of us and we look forward to using them again in the future.
What we learned
Throughout the whole process our team learned how to craft the best Voice User Interface by following the tips and tricks given in the starter guide. We also got a general idea on the thinking process that we should undergo for the best user interface with our skill (i.e. speaking informally to generate an authentic conversation). In addition to that, my team and I got a good idea on how to prepare for future hackathons so that we can tackle our problems efficiently from the start to maximize our project completion and success.
What's next for My Miles
Had we been given more time, we would like to have implemented more complex features. One of these is a multi-user system which can allow a personalized response to each user based on who is using the device. Aside from that, we would have liked to incorporate a shoe advising system that would alert the user (after a certain amount of miles) that their shoes are approaching their limit and would need to be replaced soon.