Inspiration

My 7 year old daughter Minindi is my inspiration. Being in Sri Lanka, and having just an Echo 2 that I got from the US early last year, I have noticed her having trouble understanding Alexa, and Alexa having trouble understanding her. Having three daughters myself, I know how much Children love to see and hear other children speaking, be it be on radio, a video or TV. Alexa APL and the latest devices with screens changes all that!

What it does

The Kids Channel is not just a single activity.. It has interactive educational and fun activities such as Facts/Questions, Math questions, Spelling tests, and even Telling Jokes, and reading Stories. The initial version for the Hackathon includes multiple activities for children, and like a TV channel, the objective is to keep children entertained and educated, in the most Child friendly and interactive manner, and allowing the content to be improved and updated easily by simply uploading more questions, videos or images as necessary.

How I built it

One of the most challenging issues in Alexa development has been the development cycle time to push new changes to Lambda function and to test them. Luckily I've been eating our own dog food - which is the SLAppForge Sigma IDE - which allows me to see my code changes in ~3 seconds on the Alexa Simulator or real device.

Challenges I ran into

Not having an Echo Show or a real device was really stressful. Since its not easy getting Amazon to deliver to Sri Lanka with the shipping, taxes and local customs bureaucracy, the developer console simulator was all that I could use for development and testing. The Alexa for PC couldn't understand my voice effectively either, and thus was not useful. I also wasted two days on trying to learn and use the new controls framework - and I shouldn't have tried it, especially since I had only about 10 days in total to prepare for this hackathon. It was a bit too complicated, to learn and use, but I have hope for a future and better version of it in future, as I believe that approach has many merits - which initially lead me to try and use it in the first place.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Getting my daughter to record video, audio and create drawings etc required a whole non-technical effort. I am happy in what I have been able to accomplish in a few days, but in future, I would get help from those who can do a better job than me, including video recording with better lighting.

What I learned

I learned a LOT about APL, and much more than I would have if I had just been reading about the features, or trying out individual bits in isolation.

What's next for Kids Channel

I plan to keep adding more content as I find time, and as I can get more ideas from my children. I also want to remember preferences about users, statistics etc, so that they will find it more exciting. I also want to add reading comprehension and singing activities soon.

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