Inspiration

Right from my engineering days (some twenty years ago), i was very passionate on human and computer interaction. I still remember that during those days we had SAPI - Speech Application Program Interface. I built a small application that will pause and resume a song played using voice command. it was developed as a Visual Basic project then.

When the Alexa was launched in Indian market, i was very quick to buy the Echo Dot and wanted to explore building skills in it. Though i am passionate about programming, in my current role i do not involve myself in coding activities. I quickly brushed up my programming skills and designed and developed a small number guessing game (Skill name - Guess It) and got it certified and published. Also, as the feature set developed, i re published the skill. To my surprise the skill got qualified for rewards based on usage counts and i got monthly rewards from Amazon. It is not about the rewards, it is about the recognition that fueled and inspired me.

I keep track of mails on new Alexa features. It was a giant leap by Amazon to introduce Alexa conversations. I wanted to explore and try.

What it does

The skill speaks out a story with randomness and dynamism built into it. Also, for a greater customer experience it combines that with sound effects. After listening to the story, Alexa asks ten questions for which the users have to provide answers. The questions carry the context from previous responses and makes it more close to a human to human conversation. End of day, that is what is Alexa Conversations is all about. Once you answer all questions the skill gets you a score based on the number of correct responses.

I am confident that regular use of this will train your brain to remember things. Kids can use this, also this can be one off party game to bring in the fun element. It can also be used by older patients who have memory problems to slowly train their brain.

How I built it

Currently i am not a developer, i am into domain and program management. But, my passion towards coding fueled me to learn and build this. Also, i strongly feel that Alexa Conversations completely changed they way skill development happens. For me it was all about dreaming a dialog and conversation flow. Moment that script is finalized, it was all about giving some procedural structures to it and support it by few API. But, the toughest part was to dream the script !!!

Challenges I ran into

With experience in old way to coding skills where we have to handle everything, this Alexa conversation sounded interesting. But, where to start !!! The way Amazon organized the live sessions and the sample skills provided with step by step approach to build was a ground breaker. It made all the difference. All, it required was a goal and passion from my side and you enabled all the support in the journey.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

End of day, i am proud that i published a skill "Guess It" in market place and world over people are using it. It might not be a large user base. But for me, since launch some 3000+ user sessions have run and still adding / continuing. It is a sense of satisfaction.

I am also proud that i started from ground zero in Alexa conversations and now reached the certification stage. I am hopeful, it should be certified in couple of days as the first round certification feedback was just to close the session at API success, which i corrected and sent.

What I learned

  1. Have a goal oriented approach
  2. Dream and start to walk in end users shoes
  3. Help is all around, seek it through right channel and get it from right qualified personal
  4. Be passionate and Hard work pays

What's next for Train Your Brain !!

Add more interesting stories and circumstances for the end user. Make the conversation even more engaged with more sound and visuals. Offer ability to create and store scoring patterns by game complexity. Show progressive metrics for the users.

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