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Product, Service & Design Innovation
Amazon Alexa Skills Challenge Seeks Ways to Use Voice to Make a Positive Impact

Amazon has launched a new challenge to reward developers of Alexa skills that have a positive impact on the environment, local communities and the world.

Amazon has launched a new challenge to reward developers of Alexa skills that have a positive impact on the environment, local communities and the world. The Alexa Skills Challenge: Tech for Good, run through Devpost, invites participants to create a skill that benefits society and compete for $122,000 in prizes and the chance to direct a donation of $20,000 from Amazon to one of 11 nonprofit organizations.

Alexa skills use voice commands to simplify tasks for Alexa users. For example, this year Amazon launched Alexa Donations with Amazon Pay, which enables customers to donate directly to charities through an Alexa skill. Now the company is hoping to inspire others to use a voice experience to positively impact society, whether it be by helping someone to save energy, helping those in need after a natural disaster strikes, or another idea. All eligible participants will take home an Amazon Echo Dot, a small smart speaker and voice-controlled device that uses Alexa.

Primarily, the competition is seeking submissions that solve a customer problem, inspire customers to learn and take action, and deliver a seamless user experience via voice. Amazon notes that quality Tech for Good skills can influence customers to adapt and learn over time and are simple to use and understand. By giving customers actionable tasks, using a skill is more likely to become a daily habit, and if skills are too complex, there is a risk of losing the customer’s attention and decreasing the likelihood that they will use the skill again.

The skills participants submit will be evaluated based on the quality of the idea, technical implementation, potential for engagement, quality of user experience, and habit-forming ability. In October, after the submission period ends, 10 finalists will be selected to participate in the second round and take home $5,000. During this round, finalist skills will be promoted to Alexa customers across multiple channels to face off for the grand prize. Finalist skills will be evaluated on their customer engagement, such as type and duration of usage, numbers of new and recurring customers, customer ratings, and more. On top of their finalist prize, the best skill from the finalist pool will take home the grand prize of $10,000 and the ability to direct a $20,000 donation from Amazon to one of the designated nonprofits.

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There are 11 additional bonus prizes that winners need not be a finalist to receive. They are split into two categories – Content and Technical – and submissions could win up to one bonus prize in each category. The Content Bonus Prizes will reward the best circular economy, sustainable transportation, natural resource efficiency, STEM education and disaster relief skills with $5,000 each. The Technical Bonus Prizes will award $2,000 each to the best use of open-sourced data, use of advanced Alexa developer features, integration of Alexa Voice Service (AVS), enhancement for Echo Show and Echo Spot, global application (published in the Skills Store in the US as well as the UK, India or Australia), and best skill built by high school students.

The skill must be submitted to the US Alexa Skill Store by September 17, 2018 at 5pm ET and must pass certification by October 1, 2018 at 5pm ET to remain eligible. More information can be found on the Challenge’s Devpost page.