Inspiration

The Amazon Echo are great voice assistant that allow you to control various parts of your home as well as lets you stream music right from the device. However, currently nothing on the Alexla market allows you to send text messages to other people using your Echo.

What it does

Alexta allows users to configure their specific Twilio account number (you have to create one as a developer) and allows you to easily send text messages to any number in the US with any message you want.

How I built it

Using the Twilio API and Amazon Lambda, I was able to connect the two API services together to get the Amazon Echo to send a text message by simply talking to it.

Challenges I ran into

  1. Writing the logic to connect the Twilio API to the Amazon Lambda as well as getting IntentSchema.json to compile properly (this took so much more time to fix than intended).
  2. The documentation on Amazon Alexa is kind of lacking when compared to that of other API services. Navigating and figuring out some things were more difficult than usual.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Getting the IntentSchema.json to compile properly as well as learning how to use both Twilio + Amazon Lambda together to create a product.

What I learned

  1. AWS, Amazon Lambda, Twilio API, Amazon Skills Kit (and how to program in it). Also, that the docs in Amazon lambda are lacking in detail (or the solutions to problems are hard to find).
  2. Also, I learned that Google DeepDream can generate very unique and cool looking images. The project thumbnail image is the result of passing on Amazon Echo image through the DeepDream generator.

What's next for Alexta

Functionality that allows users to change their text message in case Alexa did not hear it properly the first time. Ex:

  • User: "send a text to 201-947-2359 saying Kent Hack Enough is good."
  • Alexa: "Do you want to send Kent Hack Enough is good to 201-947-2359?"
  • User: "No"
  • Alexa: "Alright, what message do you want me to send?"
  • User: "send a text to 201-947-2359 saying Kent Hack Enough is the best."
  • Alexa: "Do you want to send Kent Hack Enough is the best to 201-947-2359?"
  • User: "Yes"
  • Alexa: "Message sent. Goodbye."

Ability to receive messages from regular phone numbers and get Amazon Echo to read you those messages. Ex:

  • User: "read my my messages"
  • Alexa: "You have one text message from 201-947-2359 and two from 201-849-3848. Which one would you like me to read."
  • User: "Read me the one from 201-849-3848."
  • Alexa: "201-849-3848 says you are a good hacker ....[pause two second before reading second message] Actually scratch that, you code does not look clean."
  • User: "How about the other one?"
  • Alexa: "Sure. 201-947-2359 says Hi, nice to meet you."
  • Alexa: "You have no more messages to be displayed. Goodbye!"
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