Celebrity Voices Game Wins First Multimodal Alexa Skills Challenge
Amazon and Devpost have revealed the winners of the first Alexa Skills Challenge: Beyond Voice, a contest for voice apps that are not limited to audio. Richard Matthews and his team at British voice app developer Vocala snagged the $20,000 grand prize for creating Voice Blast, a celebrity voice guessing game that combines visual and audio components. Six others earned smaller bonus prizes for their skills under different categories.
The Beyond Voice challenge asked participants to submit Alexa skills that, in addition to voice interaction, had visuals, movement, motion-sensing, or other interactive options. The developers were urged to turn to new and updated tools to enhance their Alexa skills in various ways. Alexa Presentation Language (APL) connects visual experiences to audio skills, for instance, while APL for Audio (APLA) lets developers combine Alexa speech with other audio and combine voices with sound effects. That audio can then be synced to the visuals of APL in layers. The audio can also be adjusted with volume filters to make sounds fade in and out or get cut off, depending on what’s happening in the app. There’s also the Alexa Web API for Games, which generates animated, even 3D voice-based games, and the Alexa Web API that makes web-based games playable on some smart displays and smart TVs. that can also be played on Echo Show smart displays and some Amazon Fire smart TVs.
“We used APLA to manage the audio throughout the skill, one of the main benefits of using it was to avoid the 5 audio file limit, this let us get really creative with the audio sequences we serve the user,” Matthews explained in a blog about the Alexa skill. “We developed the viewports using APL, some key points were scaling the celebrity images properly in every viewport using the best-fit on the scale property of an APL image component, to make sure they weren’t stretched or blurred.”
The judges narrowed the initial 1,133 entries down to 10 finalists last month who won $5,000 each for making it that far. Even reaching just the top 300 scored developers a $50 Amazon gift card. Amazon awarded $97,000 in prizes altogether for the challenge, suggesting the company is eager to see the kind of multimodal thinking these entries represent. Check out the rest of the winners below.
Best Food and Drink Skill: Home Connect My Oven – This Alexa skill offers oven setting recommendations, when joined with Home Connect, it can analyze kitchen equipment and share more precise suggestions.
Best Kid Skill ($2,000 USD): LEVOOBA – An educational voice game challenge for kids to to test each other’s knowledge.
Best Health & Fitness Skill: The Happy Index – An Alexa-based mood tracker that sends audio and visual reminders to smile and remember happy moments.
Best Education and Reference Skill: Math Mountain – A math quiz using visuals of mountain climbing to make it more fun for kids.
Best Game Skill: The Werewolves Game – Interactive multiplayer game where a group is divided into werewolves and villagers, using audio and visual cues to guide players.
Best Productivity Skill: Joy Jam -A musician-designed rehearsing skill to help write music or play backing tracks for practice and recording sessions.