Using Flexible Slots to Design Alexa Skills

March 28th, 2017 | Conor Livingston | Engineering,Uncategorized

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Voice Interfaces For IoT

The Amazon Echo is a breakthrough product. It is the first consumer product with a voice-centric interaction model, and it has really caught on. The number of skills (think apps… more on this below) available in the Alexa Skills store has increased 5X between Q2 and Q4 of 2016, and Amazon Echo sales have more than doubled between 2015 and 2016, from 2.4 million to 5.2 million.

SpinDance recently created an Alexa skill that enables consumers to control Whirlpool and Jenn-Air home appliances with their voices. Along the way we discovered a better way to design skills, resulting in less code and increased flexibility. Read on to learn how you can follow suit.

About Alexa Skills

Alexa Skills are still relatively new, so before we explain the improved design methodology, here’s some background information on Amazon Alxa skills, and the traditional way of designing them.

It might help to think of Alexa skills as mobile apps. Just like mobile apps add features to mobile phones, Alexa skills add features to Alexa-powered devices, like the Echo, Echo Dot, or even a Kindle tablet.

Users can browse for skills in Amazon’s skill store, enable them, and then interact with their device by talking to it. Here are some examples:

  • “Alexa,

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Spread the Love: Kickstarters We’re Backing

March 10th, 2017 | Brian Tol | Kickstarter

SpinDance has always been a firm believer in collaboration of technology, knowledge and resources. After all, what is IoT if not the manifestation of collaboration? (That’s a mouthful.) So it should come as no surprise to learn that SpinDance is an active participant in funding start-ups through collaborative platforms, including the mother of them all: Kickstarter.

Since its launch in 2009, Kickstarter has attracted nearly $3 billion in funding from 12 million people, with nearly 120,000 projects successfully funded.

We’re on both the giving and receiving side of the start-up equation; several Kickstarter projects have engaged SpinDance to assist with IoT technology development. You might say that good karma comes when you practice what you preach.

It’s exciting and rewarding to be able to lend our skillset to these projects, and we intend to keep the pipeline flowing. Here are a few of the projects we’ve backed over the last few months.

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Get To Know SpinDance

March 6th, 2017 | Brian Tol | SpinDance

SpinDance was recently featured in a short video produced by Grand Rapids Tech List, an organization that highlights local technology businesses by sharing their stories through video. We’re in good company, and SpinDance CEO Mike Ellis tells the 10,000-foot story of what we’re all about.

Take a look:…

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