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Designing & developing an Echo Show app

After 4 weeks of hard work and an 8 hour flight, a team integrated by 2 software engineers a product designer arrived in Chicago with a product they were proud to showcase at the FWD Conference.

The Hackathon

Earlier this year, Kin + Carta hosted an internal hackathon, inviting cross-functional teams of designers, engineers and testers to develop concepts that leveraged emerging technologies, in just 12 hours. The winner would be showcased at the FWD conference in Chicago. The participants worked on a range of concepts, including, an interface visualising mocked location data, an Alexa guided on-boarding bot, a ‘polite’ chatbot, and an Alexa skill for writing haikus. 

The winning team's idea focused on the hypothesis that on-boarding experiences could be improved through the use of voice.

gymbot on a table screen

Designing & developing the Echo Show App

The team spent the next 4 weeks after the hackathon refining the conversation and visual interface. They had previously identified the health sector as a potential market and decided to build an on-boarding experience for a fitness service. The hardware they chose was the Echo Show, as its voice and visual interfaces would give our users a richer, more accessible experience.

They began by setting up our conversational framework, building an AWS lambda function that would process all utterances (user inputs). They used Node.js along with Amazon’s ask-sdk library as the basis for this function. For each action, or intent, the user gave, it would apply logic to determine the response.

The team worked hard to create the right balance of personality for the Echo Show skill; a mix of fun and rude, which attendees loved. The challenge of creating this personality lied with the limitations in tone of voice.

A bonus feature was a skill that referenced external APIs and music libraries on the fly throughout the experience. The ability to give people contextual feedback on their answers made the experience a lot more interactive and fun. The team felt that creating more meaningful, engaging conversations with users was the way to break down the barrier between the two sides.

Echo Show App

London > Chicago

Once the 4 weeks were over, they jumped on an 8 hour flight to Chicago to set up the demo at the FWD summit.

The event is an opportunity for Kin + Carta to showcase all of the work done by their Labs team. It was amazing to see the innovative things they’ve been up to using technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, mixed, virtual and augmented reality.

The winning team got the chance to show off their skills to a large varied audience that included CEOs, CTOs, and Innovators who were impressed by how fast a fairly robust skill could be built.

Overall, the whole experience from start to finish was amazing for the team members. Working with their colleagues in Chicago while they continued to expand their knowledge on the Health sector was a once in a lifetime opportunity for them. Kin + Carta's global connections allow individuals to support and learn from one other at rapid speed, and this will also continue to compound over years to come.

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Designing & developing an Echo Show app