This repository provides information about the Amazon Echo specifically for those that are going to accept the Vantiv API challenge at Money20/20. There will be some interesting challenges with these hardware components but we believe without challenge there is no reward. Check out the materials below to help get started quickly.
If you're not familiar with the Amazon Echo, it is a cool WiFi accessible household speaker with voice recognition technology. Amazon Echo is tightly coupled with Alexa, Amazon's virtual assistant that lives in the cloud. Alexa is similar to Apple's Siri or Microsoft's Cortona.
This device is familiar to us at Vantiv as we've had the chance to work with this previously during the pymnts.com/alexa challenge.
- Visit http://github.com/VantivLabs for code samples from the pymnts.com/alexa challenge demonstrated by Vantiv @ RetailNOW.
- An technical excellent tutorial at https://github.com/amzn/alexa-skills-kit-js/tree/master/samples/wiseGuy shows how to write a skill for the Amazon Echo using the Alexa SDK.
Each team interested in using the Amazon Echo as a part of the Hackathon challenge will receive an Echo. Let us know soon that you are interested because quantities are limited.
Like all consumer electronics these days, the Amazon Echo packaging is slick. The packaging is almost as cool as the electronics. When you pull it out of the box, there are just two components - the unit itself and the power supply.
There is a great review of the Amazon Echo done here on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXsPcYLcrw0
To get the Amazon Echo going, download the Alexa app, and connect your Amazon Echo via WiFi. After about 5 minutes Alexa will be telling you jokes and playing radiolab. Here are quick instructions borrowed from the Amazon support pages that detail the process step by step.
1. Download the app
To download the Alexa app, go to the app store on your favorite mobile device and search for "Alexa app," or select a link below:
You can also go to http://alexa.amazon.com from Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Internet Explorer (10 or higher) on your Wi-Fi enabled computer.
2. Turn on the Echo
Plug the included power adapter into Echo and then into a power outlet. The light ring on Echo turns blue, and then orange. When the light turns orange, Echo greets you.
3. Connect Echo to a WiFi network
Follow the guided instructions in the app to connect Echo to a Wi-Fi network. To learn more, go to Connect Echo to Wi-Fi.
Tip: If your Echo doesn't connect to your Wi-Fi network, unplug and then plug the device into a power outlet to restart it. If you still have trouble, reset your Echo to its factory settings and set it up again. To learn more, go to Reset Your Echo Device.
4. Talk to Alexa.
You can now use your Echo device. To get started, say the "wake word" and then speak naturally to Alexa. Your Echo device is set to respond to the wake word "Alexa" by default, but you can use the Alexa app to change the wake word at any time. In the app, go to Settings, select your Echo device, and then select Wake word.
This is where things get interesting from a developer point of view. The Alexa platform is extensible, and supports the concept of "skills", You can think of skills as being analogous Apps in an app-store.
As mentioned earlier, a google tutorial that explains how to go about building a new skill for Alex is provided here - https://github.com/amzn/alexa-skills-kit-js/tree/master/samples/wiseGuy.
Amazon has a great portal for Alexa developers here: https://developer.amazon.com/alexa
There are a couple of important APIs to be aware of:
The Alexa Skills Kit
This is probably the set of APIs you'll want to use. According to Amazon, The Alexa Skills Kit is a collection of self-service APIs, tools, documentation and code samples that make it fast and easy for you to add skills to Alexa. You can also use the Smart Home Skill API, a new addition to the Alexa Skills Kit, to easily teach Alexa how to control your cloud-controlled lighting and thermostat devices. All of the code runs in the cloud and nothing is on any user device. You can get started here: https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit#Ready%20to%20start%3F
The Alexa Voice Service
AVS is Amazon’s intelligent cloud service that allows you as a developer to voice-enable any connected product with a microphone and speaker. Users can simply talk to their Alexa-enabled products to play music, answer questions, get news and local information, control smart home products and more. You can get started here: https://developer.amazon.com/public/solutions/alexa/alexa-voice-service/getting-started-with-the-alexa-voice-service
Using Vantiv's eComm services
At some point, if you accept this challenge, you'll need to make Alexa via the Amazon Echo interact with Vantiv's eCommerce payment APIs. You can connect to Vantiv's cloud resident endpoints from any device that can POST and GET XML via an SSL protected TCP/IP connection.
- A quick tutorial showing how to interact with Vantiv's XML-based HTTPS POST API is provided here here. You can find simple cURL scripts in the GitHub repository.
- More resources including complete documentation for Vantiv's eCommerce platform are available here: eCommerce