Inspiration

Hey, I’m Daniel and I am the creator of “Trailer Player” a brand new and entertaining multimedia voice experience for Amazon Alexa. This idea goes back almost 18 months when I was trying to play movie trailers on an Echo Show, but this simply wasn’t possible.

Also when going into the cinema, before the actual movie there are trailers playing. My friends and me we would always start playing our trailer quiz game. Whoever guessed the correct movie title first wins. All of this inspired me to create a new Alexa voice experience.

What it does

This is a skill that offers three heavily voice optimized features

1. Play specific movie trailers by asking "Alexa, ask Trailer Player to play Ghostbusters Trailer"

2. Play the most recent movie trailers for upcoming movies and those that are currently playing in the cinema by asking "Alexa, ask Skil to play the most recent movie trailers"

2.1. Users with a display-device like Echo Spot or Echo Show can also say "Alexa, tell Trailer Player to show me most recent trailer list" to get an APL touch-enabled Trailer gallery

3. Play Trailer Quiz by saying "Alexa, tell Trailer Player to start Trailer Quiz". You will get one daily new trailer to collect leaderboard points by guessing the correct movie title. After that you can play some more in Training mode only with a big list of possible trailers to guess.

How I built it

Before starting the skill I created a unique and extensive voice user interface design to make sure to think about every possible way the skill can be launched, used, invoked and interacted with. This helped a lot for further development.

The skill is built based on the ASK SDK V2 and using the ASK CLI V2. It uses a lot of most recent Alexa features like:

  • APL to display animated screens like flashing cinema lights,
  • Motion Enabled: FollowOnWakeword and SmartMotion Alexa Extention to show of shaking screens when giving a wrong answer
  • APL-Audio to enable immersive and matching sounds and to enable high quality audio output of the trailers audio sound-track and to keep the user in session
  • GameOn SDK for Leaderboard gamification
  • Custom Slot Type with Auto Update
  • Dynamic Entities

Immersive Experience

The Skill also offers a variety of sounds you may know out of the cinema, like a movie projector, people cheering, slurping, popcorn eating. Also all graphics and images are picked to support a cinema-like experience, like the leaderboard or choosing a movie trailer.

When saying good bye to the user Alexa also offers "good bye" quotes from famous movies.

The skill heavily relies on the TMDB API (www.themoviedb.org) to query for movies as well as using an openly available Kinoheld GraphQL API to get the most recent movies and trailers showing in Germany.

The skill will check the movie name based on the AMAZON.MOVIE slot type and query TMBD (The Movie Database API) to find a trailer for the requested movie and then play it to the user: either play the video for display devices like Echo Spot, Echo Show and Fire TV or Audio only for all non-display devices by using APL-Audio.

Custom Slot Types for the movie names as well as dynamic entities are offered to increase movie title recognition, especially when in Game mode.

GameOn SDK (Beta) is used to enable gamification for the users, allow them to collect points each day and get a better rank for the global leaderboard. Players will get points based on how quickly they are correctly guessing the movie name of the trailer that is presented. It's calculated based on the trailer length minus the time the user takes to answer. This is used to give the players points and make it fair for all of them.

Challenges I ran into

Alexa movie title recognition could have been better, this is why I went with Custom Slot Type and Dynamic Entities. It was also very challenging to create the new APL designs, enabled animation and use the new motion extension as those new features are well documented but I haven't worked with them yet.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

I'm just super proud to have created this skill. I think it's very unique and offers a great user experience as well as enabling users to watch and ask for movie trailers. I can imagine that this will be a heavily used feature on Alexa.

What I learned

I learned to create multimodal responses for APL-Audio and implemented the GameOn SDK for the first time. This was very challenging and interesting as well, but a fun experience.

What's next for Trailer Player

I would like to extend the animations a bit more, polish the APL and APL-Audio tracks and add some more value to the gameification parts of Skill, like adding multiple achivements, medals and maybe offer a real live multiplayer experience so a user can play against other users from around the world.

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