We came to the hackathon with only one Alexa under our arms and no ideas in our heads. Well, we had a bunch of ideas, but couldn't decide on which we liked the most. We wanted to take up a challenge. We knew nothing about alexa programming but had all the energy in our hearts. When we though about this amazing hack we knew alexa and our hack were meant to be together.
What it does
Imagine the typical day, in which you're laying on the sofa and some friends convince to go for a beer. You decide to go out, but of course tomorrow you have work to do. You'd like to get back home early, but you also know yourself. When you go out with those friends, you know when it starts but not when it will end. Luckily for you, the Party Donator has been born to help you. You only have to tell Alexa that you're going out and when you expect to return. She will remember that time. For each half an hour you're late, she will donate 2 euros to clowns without borders. Therefore, you will want to get home early for an extra reason, but still if you're late you'll be helping people. We intend the Alexa skill to have costumizable times and ammounts of money, but couldn't implement it on this first version.
How we built it
Our first idea was to use entirely the amazon developer. However, with only two days and no experience we realized we needed to look somewhere else. After a full night of investigation and sweat, and no sleep at all, we discovered SELENIUM. Selenium is a java library that allows you to interact with your internet browsers. So, instead of letting Alexa read the commands and keep them for herself, we hacked her history webpage. With that, we are able to easily read commands and act upon them. At the same time, we implemented an Alexa skill that makes her answer to the users requests, so the user believes to be speaking to Alexa herself.
Challenges we ran into
Amazon developer tools are, by far, the biggest challenge we encountered. However, we won't ever forget the crude journey towards getting ownership of the HISTORY html. The first challenge was solved by not using it much. Nevertheless, we conquered the latter by our own rights.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We're prowd to have a functional program that gives actual money to an NGO. By that, we reach one of our goals, which was having a hack that helped both those in need and the user, by allowing him to gain consciousness of his acts.
What we learned
We learned sleeping is not always necessary. Apart from the obvious, we also learned all kinds of coding skills that we never knew existed in languages we had never used, such as python, lambda, and even html.
What's next for partyDonator
We have a couple of ideas that we couldn't implement while here. First of all, we'd love to have more costumizable options. Moreover, we discussed about connecting it to a phone and being able to control the user's location through gps, so that if he forgets to inform Alexa about his whereabouts he won't have to worry (the gps knows he's at home). The small upgrade we were not able to push forward in the end was our idea of having a recording of all the money spent on the NGO, but you shall see it soon.