Inspiration

Have a work trip coming up? Spending too much time away from your loved ones? Want to stay connected anyway?

Then have Alexa read your personal message to your loved ones, no matter where you are! You simply store them in a spreadsheet, and your loved ones back home can ask Alexa for their message, whenever they feel like it.

I stored messages for my girlfriend every day, while I was on a trip in Japan. She said asking Alexa for her personal message every day right after waking up was her favorite event of each day! Now she also gets an occasional message during long work days ;)

What it does

Personal message creates a Google Spreadsheet, which you can access from anywhere in the world. Use it to store messages of your choice, and have Alexa read them to your loved ones back home. All they will need to do is ask for them. ("Alexa, ask my personal message for my message."), ("Alexa, start my personal message")

How I built it

My first messages were hard coded, in Node js code executed on Amazon Lambda. They were sufficient for me, but not for publishing. Hence I added the google spreadsheet support, without authentication. Again, sufficient (and even better than before) for me, not for publishing. Finally, I decided to look into oauth 2.0, and after several stupid amateur mistakes, it finally worked.

Now everyone gets his own private message sheet, and hopefully soon messages will start flying all over the world.

Challenges I ran into

It's not that easy to debug oauth 2.0, when you are very new to it, and the Amazon Service Simulator does not work for account linking.

It's also not that easy to publish a skill, when you are too stubborn to easily adapt to the suggenstions by the certification team ;)

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Having the app published :)

What I learned

Nothing is ever as easy as expected!

What's next for My Personal Message

There is so much still to be done:

-) Support for uploading photos, to be shown via Alexa cards.

-) Build an android app, so people can set the personal message via an app.

-) Allow users next to Alexa, to reply to messages, storing the reply back in the sheet.

-) Let the hue lights blink when a new message is set? ;)

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