When I started developing for Alexa, I always had a strong desire to bring my personal passion for travelling into the Alexa world. But certain technical limitations have long kept me from doing so. Since the introduction of APLA and especially the Motion and Sensing API it was time to finally put some ideas into practice.
What it does
With the wanderlust Alexa skill, travelers can discover and rate travel destinations all over the world and view panoramic photos. Experience how Alexa asks the tour guides to present their travel tips in more detail. When George presents his tip about London, Big Ben may be heard at the right moment.
How I built it
We used our own PHP based Alexa framework phlexa as the basic setup. Of course we used the APL for the display combined with the APL for Audio to create a realistic atmosphere when the tour guides present their tips. We also added support for the new Motion and Sensing APIs to present panoramic images for the new Echo Show 10.
We hired a nice and international group of young Voice Actors, who slipped into the roles of the tour guides.
Challenges I ran into
The biggest challenge was to support the Motion and Sensing APIs without having access to a real Echo Show 10 device. The simulator sometimes had some hickups. One hour it worked, the next hour it didn't. It took quite a few hours to groove into the Motion and Sensing APIs.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
Of course the support of the Motion and Sensing APIs. But also the successful cooperation with the Voice Actors was very encouraging. I also think it's great when George talks about London and Big Ben rings the bell.
What I learned
I should have started working on the Alexa ability earlier. Some real world problems from other projects made it very difficult to meet the deadline. But we made it.
What's next for wanderlust
We will definitely add more destination, and more tour guids / voice actors. We also have some plans for adding curated round trips throughout the world.