IntroductionA while ago, I wrote an article about If Then Than That (IFTTT) as a way of increasing the functionality of your smart speaker, moving things from Amazon to Google (or vice versa) (Link: http://theitlexicon.blogspot.com/2018/02/ifttt-interconnecting-internet-of-things.html). Within a few swipes you're sharing Instagram photos on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or anywhere you want. It extends the functionality of your device beyond its plastic shell. The programming interface is simple, just swiping the conditions in the way you need them.
Now, Amazon has adopted this type of IFTTT programming for the Amazon Alexa. It's called Alexa Blueprints (https://blueprints.amazon.com/) and it makes bringing new skills to Alexa a breeze. That's what we're talking about on today's blog.
Alexa SkillsAlexa is a "smart speaker", but if it didn't have a bunch of developers behind it, then Alexa would simply be an electronic hockey puck. When you buy Alexa, she has some skills already built in, but you can make programs for the device. These new routines are called "Skills".
Through the website, we go through three steps to make a new skill: 1) Pick a Blueprint, 2) Fill in the blanks, and 3) Use your skill. "Blueprints" are like the rough sketch or a lump of clay.
Above, is a blueprint for a custom question and answer skill. Here you can listen to a skill and understand how it works. Click the "Make your Own" button to start molding your clay, thus making the skill.
So, for the Question and Answers skill, simply fill out the questions and answers that you want Alexa to say. When you're done, click the "Next: Create Skill" button.
Once complete, just go to Alexa and mention one of your questions. Voila! It's ready.
ConclusionAlexa Blueprint gives us the ability to shape our Amazon devices to learn new skills, do more functions, and extend their capabilities. These types of programs help personalize these devices and make them even more useful in our lives.
Here is a video which discusses the process: https://youtu.be/ZH5A_aycZ-o