TextList

Using Amazon Alexa to text you to-do list reminders at scheduled times & dates

How to Use:

  1. Tell Alexa to "Text me (task description) at Time & Date"
  2. You will receive a text message at the specified time/date from a Twilio phone number
  3. You must then respond to Alexa by responding to the text message. If you do not do so, she will remind you to complete the task every fifteen minutes via text
    • Text back with the any of the words "complete, completed, done, accomplished" to let her know to delete the task from your list
    • If you cannot complete the task at that moment, simply respond with "postpone until (specified date & time / amount of time)" and she will send you a reminder text at the new time

Technologies Used:

Inspiration

We're constantly writing todo lists, reminders and notes to ourselves, and just as often forgetting about all these plans we've made. What we really need is someone there to bug us and remind us of our tasks. Enter TextList.

What it does

TextList leverages Amazon's Alexa digital assistant to provide you with a friendly source of reminders. Ask Alexa to text you a reminder at a certain time and date in the future, and when the time comes receive a text reminding you. If you fail to respond, Alexa will follow up and make sure you stay on top of your tasks.

How we built it

TextList works through an Alexa skill with an accompanying web app. The skill was written as an AWS Lambda Function that is executed when you speak with Alexa and adds reminders to our Firebase based backend. The web application made with React.js then pings Firebase for reminders that need to be sent, and uses Twilio to text you any reminders that are ready.

Challenges we ran into

Amazon's Lambda Function system is confusing (and our Javascript knowledge was very limited) so getting the skill to execute correctly for each user input and mapping intents had a steep learning curve. Neither of us had ever used React.js, and the web application development was a painful experience when it came time to try and deploy.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Alexa understands the user and adds reminders to the database for variety of input sentences!

What we learned

So much about Alexa, React and Twilio

What's next for TextList

Full-scale deployment, certification for our skill and mass adoption by people who are tired of forgetting to do their chores.

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