Inspiration

At Novoda we have a mission statement: Together in a journey of learning and growth. We wanted to build a skill that can help everyone learn more about astronomy and space, so we decided to create an Amazon Alexa Skill that people can use to learn new things and also have a bit of fun.

What it does

This skill's aim is to help kids learn more about space by asking them some questions and giving them the correct answers when they make a mistake, as well as giving some extra information about the topic.

The skill is very simple and easy to use, as the game begins it asks a question and gives the different possible answers, if the kid gets the answer right then they get a point, after a number of questions the round ends and the skill gives the user the final score, then the user can decide to play again or stop the skill.

This is how it works in an Amazon Echo (or Echo Dot): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rBtq5VbIQM This is how it works in an Amazon Echo Show device: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsYj48dPDB8

How we built it

We built a basic skill using the Alexa Skills Kit SDK for Node.js.

Amazon provides the ASK-CLI which is an easy-to-use command-line tool to initialise, clone, deploy and interact with a Skill, and it came in really handy when testing the skill since it allowed us to deploy it by running the ask deploy command.

We based our code on the Trivia template provided by Amazon and added a few changes to make it work with the latest SDK version and modified some things so that it'd work better with the Echo Show.

Challenges we ran into

The main issue we faced is that when trying to use the display of the Echo Show, the questions and answers were too long to be displayed as a title (question) with a list of options (possible answers), so instead, we had to just use text and format the question and answers ourselves. The downside of this is that the options aren't clickable so the user has to select one using a voice command instead of the touch screen.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We're proud that we managed to create a skill that's simple enough for kids to use with the Amazon Echo and with the Echo Show too

What we learned

Amazon provides easy-to-use APIs for using the display of the Echo Show to be able to make more engaging skills with a nice UI.

What's next for Space Quiz

The Space Quiz skill can be enabled from https://www.amazon.com/Novoda-Ltd-Space-quiz/dp/B078SD9RWL

The next step for Space Quiz would be to add local multiplayer capabilities so that kids can play with friends at school or at home, allowing them to learn together

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