Thinking there is a world of possibility with smart speakers beyond "Alexa, where's my stuff?" and "OK Google, how many feet are in a mile?"  We agree.

Skyline's software engineers have been working on some fun stuff and would love to work with your business to bring your real-world, conversational user experiences to life.

Alexa, book this room

Alexa, Cognitive Services, Graph API, Raspberry Pi

Our associates built a solution that leveraged an Echo Dot, a Raspberry Pi, Microsoft Cognitive Services, Microsoft Graph API, and a camera to enable the booking of a conference room.

The solution allows an individual to book a conference room simply by saying "Alexa, tell Outlook to book this room for 2:00".

Microsoft Cognitive Services was leveraged to determine who was making the request by capturing an image of the individual and determining their identity based upon a library of images of individuals within the organization.

After identifying the user, a combination of Microsoft Graph AI and Azure Active Directory were used to make an appointment within Outlook for the user that listed the conference room as a resource. 

Alexa, how much do you love SharePoint?

Alexa, SharePoint Rest API

Our SharePoint team was looking for another practical use case for Alexa in the business environment, so they used Alexa as an interface to mySkyline, Skyline’s intranet.

At Skyline, we leverage SharePoint to publish our announcements, celebrations and events. The team built a custom Alexa skill that leverages the SharePoint Rest API to retrieve information from SharePoint and present it to the user.

Alexa, I have a grievance

Alexa, Azure Web API

This team created a skill that spoofs the classic Seinfeld episode which featured Festivus, the fictional holiday celebrated by the Costanza family.

This skill allows the end user to enter a grievance and will read existing grievances back to the end user.

The team built a hosted Azure Web API to accept requests and respond appropriately.

Alexa, where is that place?

Alexa, Proximity Sensors, Visual Output

This team wanted the end user to see information returned visually on a screen as a result of their requests in addition to a voice response.  To demonstrate this concept, the team built a skill that enabled a building directory.

Users approach a screen that is used to present the building directory information.  When the user approaches the screen, the proximity sensor recognizes their presence and “wakes up”.  The user can then ask where they can find the specific business they are attempting to locate within the building.  Alexa verbally responds and the screen presents an image of the office the user is attempting to locate.

Additionally, they made a significant effort to phrase the responses in a manner that were conversational in nature.  For example, a response to finding a location might say “The office you are looking for is on the second floor.  Turn around and you will find the elevators on your right.  You will find the office to your left as you exit the elevator” versus “The office number is 250”.

Alexa, what’s going on?

Alexa, Amazon Web Service

Each year, Skyline associates travel to Door County, Wisconsin for our annual retreat.  A group of associates created a skill to assist their fellow associates in determining “What’s Going On?”.

This skill allowed the user to ask for additional information about activities in any of the nearby towns.  Sample commands including:

“Alexa, where can we eat in Sister Bay?”
“Alexa, what’s going on in Bailey’s Harbor?”

Which, in turn, provides suggestions for the end user.

OK Google, Let’s Play Trivia

Google Home, Azure Web API

This team dug in to see just want could be done with the Google Home device.  

Much like the Amazon Echo, Google Home devices receive requests and can call out to web services, referred to as “webhooks”.  The team created a trivia database within Firebase, a cloud-enabled real-time database, and then built an Azure-hosted Web API to receive requests and provide responses.    

The resulting Action on Google allows the user to choose their trivia category, the Google Home then asks the question and provides the user with a list of possible answers. 

Alexa, OK Google?  Neither.

Voice Activated Kiosk

While Amazon and Google are well known in the consumer market, there are other technologies enabling voice activated solutions, including this solution which is enabled with the Chrome Web Speech API.

A wholesaler with customers distributed throughout America wanted a kiosk application that users could approach and search their product catalog via voice. 

Skyline developed an application that allows the user to approach the kiosk and use a wake phrase to turn on the application. The user then provides information about the product they own via their voice. We use this product information, and tailored to the location, query products available for the consumer specific to the location. The product tailored query includes preferred items, as well as pricing and quantity information.

Echo Evangelist

Andrew Petersen is Skyline's biggest evangelist of Amazon Echo technology.  He has built a number of devices that have integrated Alexa. 

Andrew maintains an open source Alexa Skill Project Template which was leveraged for many of the skills shown above.  You can find Andrew's project template on GitHub.

Andrew also created an open source GUI to assist making “Utterance” phrases.

Andrew even made a spoof of the movie "Her" which features a lot of the work he has done with the Echo.  (The Andrew portrayed in this spoof does not resemble the real Andrew...most of the time.)

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