Connected Labs hosts Alexa Skills hackathon featuring Echo Spot

If you find that it’s hard to motivate your kids to do chores around the house, Alexa may be able to help you with that soon enough if the winner of a Toronto-based hackathon gets its way.

Household Hero is the Skill that came out on top of Connected Lab’s Amazon Echo Spot Hackathon hosted June 23. The task manager for chores around the house bills itself as a way to allow parents to assign chores to their kids, and track whether they’ve been completed or not.

The Skill was made by Derek Chezzi, Nabeel Hussain, Denys Karpov, and Ahmed Daudaa. It has built-in gamification to encourage kids to actually do the chores, and a tie-in to Amazon Pay so the parents can buy their bribe (er, reward) using voice as well.

Connected Labs - Household hero team
Members of the Household Hero team are hard at work.

“It speaks to the idea of how the home can be run more smoothly and efficiently with Alexa,” says Eli Burnstein, communications lead at Connected Lab. “This will get even better with the forthcoming voice recognition on Alexa, so kids can’t cheat the system or assign work to their sister.”

So there’re a few bugs left to be worked out, but that’s to be expected from a hackathon event that saw teams of three to five developers come together to form a concept and launch a minimum viable product in a working beta mode to Alexa. Connected Lab’s third Alexa-focused hackathon follows a tradition that it began in 2016 and continued this year by focusing on the Echo Spot, the newest Alexa device launched in Canada and the only one with a screen.

See our hands-on review with the Echo Spot:

Connected Labs partnered with Amazon for the event. To support the Skills developers, Amazon provided Echo Spot units as prizes as well as devices for the teams to work on throughout the day. Justin Jeffress, an Amazon solutions architect, acted as a judge and as an advisor to the teams involved. He did a Q&A session at the end of the day as well.

The annual hackathons serve as an ideal way for Connect Lab to prospect talented developers for future hiring considerations, Burnstein says. “We’re always on the hunt for new talent. We can barely hire fast enough to fill our needs.”

Plus it connects with a core value of the company to always be learning and involved in teaching when possible. By bringing in the outside community, the firm is exposed to designers, engineers, and strategists that could help inform its wider product outlook.

Alexa Skills to help you live

Several other Alexa Skills were developed at the hackathon:

  • Trash Wizard is meant to help sort the trash at home. If you’re wondering whether to place something in the garbage, recycling, or compost, this is the Skill to ask. It’s also packed with interesting facts about your local recycling system.
  • Study Buddy is a cute approach to spelling education for very young children. “What letter does ‘dog’ start with?” it may ask your toddler.
  • Connected ‘6 riffs on Toronto’s nickname as “the six.” It’s also connected to the blogTO content library that provides information about restaurants through an interactive search tool organized by neighbourhood.
  • Route Genius is for joggers that are bored of running the same route every time. Just ask it to create a route of a specific distance, and it will send it to your smartphone.
  • Match Maker seeks to bring video dating into the 21st century. Browse profiles using the Echo Spot’s screen and select the person you want to learn more about and hear an audio snippet from them.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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