Inspiration

I love my India! One of the oldest civilizations in the world, India is a mosaic of multicultural experiences. With a rich heritage and myriad attractions, the country is among the most popular tourist destinations in the world. We made this Alexa skill to help anyone plan their next vacation in India. (And other countries in the future as well).

What it does

Travel India is an Alexa Skill that provides services like Weather Information, Places information, Directions, Travel guides, SOS services, Travel Recommendations, and much more! All you need to do is just ASK.

For example, you can ask "What's the best time to visit Himachal Pradesh?" and it will provide every necessary information you'll need before you begin planning your trip.

Or you can ask about "Visa details for ", "Direct me to ", "Weather in ", etc.

How we built it

This Alexa makes use of our serverless AWS Lambda functions that are written in pure JavaScript. We used Google Cloud services like Maps, Directions, Places APIs to make this skill work. The serverless functions make an HTTP request to the Google APIs and serve the response in a JSON format that Alexa can parse. We configured the Alexa commands in a JSON file structure. The skill uses two other static JSON files that are hosted on Linode's Bucked Storage.

Challenges we ran into

  • Setting up the Google Cloud APIs (Google Cloud was new to us)
  • Understanding AWS Console
  • Configuring Lambda Functions and figuring out the correct API calls.
  • Amazon Alexa normally doesn't provide a good NLP for Indian locations which are of course in Hindi. Therefore we had to scrape names of various local places to override the default 'AMAZON.Places' list. So that it would be easy for Alexa to grasp.
  • Handling large JSON files was really difficult.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We're proud that we thought of such an amazing idea and turned it into reality in just two days. We made a project that can be utilized by anyone, once published. We picked up a completely different project than the usual Mobile/Web apps. We'll be developing more such Alexa skills in the future.

What we learned

  • Amazon AWS
  • Serverless Functions
  • Google Cloud Services
  • Maps API, Directions API, Places API
  • Asynchronous Javascript

What's next for Travel India - an Alexa Skill

We'll develop the same concept for multiple countries so that it can be used for any tourist place around the world. We'll add more features to it such as hotels search, flights search, estimated trip budgets, explore tourist packages from various travel agencies.

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