Remember the 2013 film Her?
The Oscar-winning science fiction rom-com featuring an intelligent computer operating system voiced by Scarlett Johansson?
This March, as part of Amazon Echo’s first ever Canadian hackathon, co-hosted by Toronto’s own Connected Lab, that idea will be one step closer to reality as Canada’s best tech minds spend a weekend hacking the virtual personal assistant.
Their subject will be “Alexa”, the voice-based operating system behind Amazon’s latest consumer electronic device, the Amazon Echo. The Echo is a small cylindrical speaker that can perform an impressive list of tasks. Users can ask Alexa to play music, read news headlines, make to-do lists, order products from Amazon.com, or even dim the lights in a room.
Not yet available in Canada, the hackathon will provide designers and developers the first opportunity to explore the Amazon Echo. Their challenge? “Hack” the Echo to develop new capabilities, called “Skills”, for Alexa to perform.
To bring the event to life, Amazon has partnered with Toronto tech company Connected Lab to co-host the weekend-long event. Connected Lab, whose core team spent time in Silicon Valley helping multi-billion dollar giants such as Facebook and Uber transition to mobile and connected technologies, have proven themselves to be the tech company to watch in Canada.
“Voice-based technologies will soon play a big role in how we use new products and services, from inside your car to your living room,” says Mike Stern, CEO, Connected Lab. “This is an amazing opportunity to explore the future of connected technology through the Amazon Echo and Alexa.” Connected Lab’s Co-Founder and VP Engineering, Damian McCabe, will sit on the hackathon’s panel of judges alongside Amazon executives and industry leaders.
This free event will include a comprehensive workshop where participants will receive an introduction to the Amazon Echo and instructions on how to build an Alexa Skill. In addition to working one-on-one with experts from Amazon and Connected Lab, participants will also have the opportunity to win a coveted Amazon Echo, as well as paid internships with Connected Lab.