Writing a Trivia Skill for Alexa

Having never heard of the Amazon Echo, I had no idea what the Alexa Project for Bloc was. I just assumed it was a Siri copycat and I’ve personally never interacted with Siri much except to set my alarm. As I was about to finish the foundations portion of my back-end web development course, I asked my mentor what he thought about this new Alexa Project. He sent me a link showcasing some of Alexa’s skills and I was intrigued by the possibilities. What appealed the most was how I could probably make apps that get information from the web instead of having to type it myself. Things such as the current basketball scores of my favorite team, the weather, a hit song they played back in the 1980s could

I find that Alexa offers more than Siri, because with a little code, I can create something that can interact with a human or animal (albeit in a limited way).

My first task was to configure existing JS code using the Alexa Skills Kit to customize my own trivia game. Being a coding newbie who has only dabbled in Ruby on Rails for a couple of months, I was concerned that I couldn’t figure out the Alexa code written in JS. Luckily, it was easier than expected since I only needed to replace the existing sample trivia questions with my own trivia questions. A challenging part of this task was to read all the different documents related to building Alexa skills. The most challenging part of the task was to have to think in very simple terms as I realized that Alexa did not have the ability yet to speak like a human with different intonations and proper pronunciation.

I look forward to working on the second task which is about Facts and am excited to see how I could build a useful skill for Alexa as the third and last task.

Going forward, I have questions about how voice recognition techonology will develop in the future. Will the code get easier or harder? And how it will affect human interactions?