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Hack the dorm with Amazon Alexa
Challenge Type: computer science
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87 months ago

Alexa, the voice service that powers Amazon Echo, provides capabilities, or skills, that enable customers to interact with devices in a more intuitive way using voice. Examples of skills include the ability to play music, answer general questions, set an alarm or timer, and more. Watch this video to learn more.

The objective of this challenge is for you to build a new voice-activated Alexa skill for your university dorm using the Alexa Skills Kit. The winners will create a new skill that makes life easier and better in a university dorm. From improving accessibility features, to creating integrations with your entertainment system, or even making homework more efficient, all domains will be considered. Entries will be judged on their usefulness and creativity among a few other criteria. Submissions must be eligible for publication, meaning they should comply with our content guidelines, should not be directed at children under 13, and cannot infringe third-party IP. The best part; no hardware is necessary to do this. If you do not have an Alexa-enabled device, you can test your skill with Alexa right in your browser and begin building your skill right away.

The contest begins today and will close on December 31, 2016 at 11:59:59 PM PST. Winners will be announced on January 31, 2017. See full contest rules here.

Here is what you can win:

- First place: $1,000 and an Amazon Echo

- Second place: $300 and an Amazon Tap

- Third place: $300 and an Echo Dot (2nd Generation)

- First 10 submissions to publish their skills and submit a contest entry here and who are not selected as first, second or third place winners will receive an Amazon Tap.

- Everyone who publishes a skill is eligible for a limited edition Alexa Developer hoodie.

We can’t wait to see what you build.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the Alexa Skills Kit?

The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) enables developers to easily build capabilities, called skills, for Alexa. ASK includes self-service APIs, documentation, templates, and code samples to get developers on a rapid road to publishing their Alexa skills.

What are examples of skills I can build?

- Ask Alexa how many instant ramen I have left.

- Ask Alexa when to do my laundry.

- Ask Alexa to raise my blinds.

- Ask Alexa to make me coffee.

How do I build my skill?

Here are several resources to help you get started.

1. How to build your first Amazon Alexa skill

2. Watch a short video series on how to build your own skill

3. Voice design best practices

4. Requirements to build a skill

5. Alexa skills kit forum

6. How to certify your skill

7. Alexa Skill Kit Node.js quick start

8. Alexa Skill Kit Smart home quick start

How can I build my skill if I don’t have an Amazon Echo?

The Alexa Skill Testing Tool by iQuarius Media is browser-based interface to Alexa, the voice service that powers Amazon Echo. is intended to allow developers who are working with the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) to test skills in development.

Can I participate in a team?

Yes, you can participate as a team but will be responsible for splitting the prize yourself in the event your skill is selected as a winner.

What will I need to enter in this contest?

1. Create a MindSumo account.

2. Create an Amazon Developer account and an Amazon Web Services account.

3. Design, build, test, and submit your skill for certification. Skills that do not pass Amazon certification during the Certification Period will still be reviewed by the Judges but will not be eligible for points awarded to published skills. See the full contest rules below for details.

4. Submit your entry on this page including: your full name, school-affiliated email address, school name, current major, graduation year, name of your skill(s) and SKILL ID(s), a detailed description of how you built your skill and what it does images, screenshots, and/or video, and a link to your source code via GitHub. Your SKILL ID can be found in your Amazon Developer Console: Alexa → Alexa Skills Kit → Your Skills → Skill Information → Application Id. The ID for your skill is unique and starts with amzn1.ask.skill. This will help Amazon accelerate the review process for certification.

5. Submissions must be eligible for publication, meaning they should comply with our content guidelines, should not be directed at children under 13, and cannot infringe third-party IP.

What is the contest timeline?

- Contest begin date: November 17, 9:00 AM PST

- Contest end date: December 31, 11:59:59 PM PST

- Certification period: January 1, 2017 to January 20, 2017

- Winners announced: January 31, 2017

See full contest rules here.

    Submissions will be graded on the following criteria:
  • Meets Deliverables
  • Creativity
  • Clarity
Additional Materials:
Reward Tiers
1 Winner
will receive $1,000
2 Honorable Mentions
will receive $300 each
$1,000.00 Nitin Surana University of Southern California
$300.00 Sai Pathuri University of Texas at Dallas
$300.00 Jen Crainic Oberlin College
Submission questions

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