Portal Integrators at Alexa Dev Days
Last November 14 and 15, the Alexa Dev Days Delhi event was held at the Le Meridien Gurgaon hotel, and two of the Portal Integrators team flew to Delhi, India to witness the event. Alexa Dev Days is a series of conferences in different parts of the world wherein attendees will learn about how to build Alexa skills that will make the lives of the people who use the Amazon Alexa devices such as the Echo much easier.
For those who are not yet familiar or who are wondering what or who Alexa is, Alexa is the cloud-based voice service created by Amazon. Having Alexa in your home will make you feel kind of like Tony Stark/Iron Man, who has JARVIS as a virtual assistant. Alexa can switch the lights on or off, tell you about the weather, and so on. You just need an Amazon Echo or other Alexa devices to make use of Alexa.
Alexa Dev Days are free, interactive events from Amazon and sponsored by Intel. Engage in hands-on sessions where you will learn to create voice experiences and hear the latest on UI design and industry trends. – http://alexadevday.com/delhi
The Alexa Dev Days in Delhi was a two-day event. On the first day at 8:30 AM, registration for the event started. Our Senior architect, Gen, and I stayed at the hotel where the event was held, so we only needed to go down the elevator to reach the conference hall. We arrived just as when other attendees were coming too, got our badges, and had our fill of the breakfast buffet that the organizers have prepared. The spread includes various Indian food, so we had a taste of their spices which were new to our palate.
After breakfast, we proceeded to the hall and got our laptops ready for the event. They require you to bring a laptop to the event because it is a hands-on event and you will learn to create Alexa skills right away, which is the best way to learn in my opinion. Once everyone has settled inside, one of the speakers, Rob McCauley, who is an Alexa Solutions Architect, demonstrated a game they have created for Alexa. It is a State game, in which you will have to enumerate states from the east to the west coast or vise versa, and Alexa will let you know if the next state you have mentioned is in the correct position or not. He also showed us a trivia game created with Alexa which will play a song and you will guess which song it is or what year the song it was playing was released. It was a fun way to show Alexa’s skills, and it gave us ideas on what we can build with Alexa.
After the demonstration, we proceeded to the first part which is an intro to Alexa. They discussed the tools that are used to build skills for Alexa. They also gave us the basics of building a skill. This was presented by the two speakers, Sohan Maheshwar, and Ankit Kala. After the introduction, we started to develop a simple skill in Alexa which gives us a fact about space when we ask for one. The Amazon staff were also assisting attendees who were having a difficult time with building the skill. Once everyone had successfully created a skill, the speakers discussed to us the best practices when developing and publishing Alexa skills. After that, we had our lunch which still includes different Indian food, and some were really spicy. After lunch, we continued building skills and this time they had us build a skill which gives you a recommendation of restaurants or landmarks in a city. Another skill that we built is one that tells you a recipe wherein you can pause, stop the skill, or continue in each step.
Then the first day of the event was done, and we had our dinner at the hotel’s Italian restaurant – Bella Cucina. It was pricey, but the food was delicious. That ends our Day 1.
The second day of the event was about the more advanced skill building in Alexa, in which we would need to use other AWS services such as the Dynamo DB, IAM, Cognito, and the IOT. The fun part of Day 2 was watching the other participants demo the skill that they built. Others even came prepared with their own equipment such as their own Echo, and a lightbulb. Most of the participants demonstrated their skills and the whole demo part took hours. The crowd in the Delhi event was enthusiastic and eager to learn and show-off their skills. After the event, they gave us Webcam Covers as swag.
We are very thankful that our company had us attend these conferences because within those two days, we learned quite a lot about building our own Alexa skill and I can say that the Portal Integrators team is now ready to create Alexa skills for our clients if they want or need it.