In October 2016, we moved to a new office at The Platina, Gachibowli, Hyderabad, India.
We thought about recruiting a dedicated receptionist for our front office. But being in Digital World, want to do something different here. We found Amazon Alexa would be an option and planned to build a Virtual Receptionist with Alexa which could do basic receptionist job like greeting employees, helping visitors etc. We named the internal project as ‘Alexa VR’.
In February 2017 after many struggles, we received Echo Dot from eBay as Alexa is officially not available to purchase in India. We have asked Sai Kiran Kotha who joined as fresher to explore Alexa and to develop new skills using Amazon Alexa Platform. Within first 2 weeks Sai Kiran was ready with his first prototype. He learned and developed the basic skills required to get started with Alexa.
We had a quick discussion and came up with a basic design to develop receptionist skill.
- Integrated Alexa with our Employee Directory using NodeJS services.
- Developed a small app using Open UI5 to register visitors.
- Developed another app using Open UI5 to schedule meetings.
- Integrated with external services to send emails and SMS to inform about visitor details to Employees.
- Integrated with a GSM module (to add the flavor of IoT) to directly call employees.
Within next 5 weeks, all the required skills, applications are ready for internal demo. Confused, explored, learned, revised, fixed and finally Alexa VR was ready to do the receptionist job.
Here is a short demo of Alexa VR!
- Greet employees and visitors.
- Collects Visitor details.
- When visitor wants to meet an employee, Alexa VR searches Employee Directory and informs employee about the visitor details (through Email / GSM call or SMS).
- If employees schedules a meeting with visitor, Alexa VR searches the scheduling app and greets the visitor with configured welcome message and informs employee about Visitor arrival.
Much more to do actually. Many other ideas to do the integration with sensors to make it more realistic.
Alexa VR was developed at our innovation lab as part of our R&D routine. If any one interested to know more details about this, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.