Plants existed on Earth for billions of years. Like any other species, they too migrated, adapted and are also affected by the changes. It is hard to image an Earth without plants. In this age of pollution, climate change and global warming, it is good to plant, reap the fruits that you sow, stay active and be healthy. There is also help and kind of motivation by a reminder from Alexa to water the plants. Hence the skill "Plant Facts".

What it does

"Plant facts" describes and shows various facts about plants. This skill not only states some known, extraordinary and surprising facts on plants but also make us wonder how rapidly they adapt to the ever changing environment and our dependence on them. This skill has 10 basic plant facts. The premium plant facts has 30 facts on plants. The most important and major update in this app is the planting tips. The application has 20 easy planting tips/ ideas with description on how to plant, take care and maintain the plants from seeds or parts. The planting tips/ideas are formulated in such a way that even a beginner can use the skill to grow flowers / fruits /vegetables or legumes in his/her yard. The explanation for planting is concise and easy to understand. The user can ski a planting tip and mode on to the next if they are not interested in planting the plant. The skill can repeat the fact and the planting tip, set a reminder to water the plants at 6.00 pm in the evening or choose to know a plant fact for general knowledge.

How I built it

The skill is available for download in display and non-display Alexa devices. The skill is available in locales "en-US","en-UK","en-CA","en-AU", and "en-IN". "Plant Facts" has APL interface enabled for multimodal experiences that combine visuals with voice on Echo Spot, Echo Show 5, Echo Show 1st Gen and Echo Show 2nd Gen devices. The skill uses Amazon's built-in intents and few custom intents to design an responsive interaction model. The logic and facts data are programmed using node.js and stored in the server-less Lambda application in the us-east-1 region. The image(s) for display is stored in Amazon S3 bucket. Also, the app asks for "Read/Write" permission from Alexa to enable reminders.

Challenges I ran into

The challenges were many from making sure that the skill provides relevant responses to finding suitable content. Some of the challenges are:-

  1. Ensure that the skill provided an error free response when the intent is invoked. All the intents provided a relevant responses.
  2. Create and ensure the design of proper intents for the skill to respond to, with the right tip or fact based on the right responses from the user.
  3. In reminders, ensure the customer is sent a card or appropriate message, if the user has not enabled reminder permission in the Alexa app along with showing other appropriate errors.
  4. Ensure that the session gets closed post completing a functionality if users are not prompted for an input.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Enabling reminders for users to water plants and to stay active. Enable planting tips for 20 plants from how to plant/ where to plant, it's maintenance and growth to keep the brain active and on the move.

What I learned

Technically and non-technically through research, I had the opportunity to learn a lot from completing the skill. The use of APL for display devices,setting up reminders, planting tips on how to plant flowers, fruits and vegetables and also surprising facts on plants through research,

What's next for Plant Facts

Based on the skill's popularity and user's interest, "Plant facts" can include more facts. The skill can also include videos that demonstrate plant functionality, show ideas and tips to grow more diverse plants and also build user enabled reminders.

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