Using Amazon Echo and IFTTT to Create a Scoreboard

on July 20 | by

Alexa Hero Image

We just bought an Amazon Echo, better known as Alexa, for our office. She’s been a great addition to our team. She plays music, she knows cat facts, and now she even integrates with Initial State through IFTTT!

Having always been the competitive type, it was impossible for me not to turn our innocent team gatherings into a ruthless competition. So, we created a point and rewards system to motivate our team to be a little more competitive during our day to day work time. (If this is something you’re wanting to do at your office, you can see ours here.)

We needed a way to easily add of all the points, and we thought Alexa would be the easiest and most rewarding way. Now, whenever someone deserves a point, I just yell out to Alexa, “Alexa! Trigger whoever point!” She then adds a point to our team scoreboard.

Project Difficulty: So easy

What you’ll need to do this project:

  1. Amazon Echo
  2. An Initial State Account
  3. An IFTTT Account

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo is an awesome hands free speaker that you control with your voice. Better known to it’s users as Alexa, it’s connected to your prime account, and allows to play music, order items on amazon, control your smart home, answer random questions, and so much more. We have one at our office, and use it for games and music. You can order yours here: https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Echo-Bluetooth-Speaker-with-WiFi-Alexa/dp/B00X4WHP5E

Initial State

Sign Up

 Signing up for Initial State is easy! Just go to initialstate.com/register to create your account. Type in your email, password, click register and you’re done!

You can watch this video if you’d like a walk through of how to sign up:

Create a Home for Your Amazon Echo Data 

This is where you’ll create a location for your Alexa data to post. 

  1. Click the cloud icon in the top right of your bucket menu to create a new https bucket.

 Jamie example key covered

  1. You can name yours anything you wish. Mine is named “Points.”

Create a Bucket PS

  1. Click Configure Endpoint Keys
  2. Optionally, to make it easier to recognize my API endpoint key, I changed my bucket key to Team-Scoreboard
  3. Below that, you can change your access key if you wish. Using whichever one pops up is fine
  4. Click create

Once you’ve gone through those steps, you’ll see you’ve created a new bucket for your Amazon Echo scoreboard! 

IFTTT

I LOVE IFTTT! I’m not a developer so when I’m looking to connect my life to the internet, I need an easy solution that allows me to do little to no coding. IFTTT is that solution. These steps are similar to the fitbit dashboard tutorial we did in a previous post. If you’ve gone through that one already then this one will be a piece of cake!

  1. Create your IFTTT account here: https://ifttt.com/join
  2. Create a new recipe
  3. Click My Recipes
  4. Click Create a Recipe in the top right

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 1.16.49 PM

  1. Click the blue text that says “this.”

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 1.17.40 PM

  1. Type “Amazon Alexa” in the search bar, and click the amazon icon.

IFTTT Echo Search

  1. You’ll be required to connect your Echo to IFTTT if you’ve never done it before. You’ll only have to do this once. Submit your Amazon info, and after it connects you’ll see this screen below:

Amazon Trigger Selection

  1. You can use any of these options to send data to Initial State. For the sake of this tutorial, we’ll be using the first option titled “Say a specific phrase.” Click the first gray box.
  2. Here you’ll want to type what phrase you’ll want to send a point value to a certain tile. We have 7 people in our Nashville office so I created triggers for reach of them. You can have the trigger be whatever you want it to be, but I just did “persons name point.” This way I would be able to send a point to that persons tile just by say, “Alexa, trigger Broc Point” to my echo. You’ll have to type it all lower case. I don’t know why, but I do know that it won’t accept anything with upper-case characters.

Broc Point

  1. Click create trigger
  2. Click the big blue text that says that
  3. Search for the Maker channel. Initial State currently doesn’t have a channel, but has been approved for one. We’ll update this tutorial, and post some awesome new ones, as soon as our channel is up and running
  4. Click the icon with the big M on it.

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 1.24.57 PM

  1. Click the gray box that says “Make a web request.”

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 1.27.21 PM

  1. Go back to your Initial State Points bucket you created earlier and click the setting link under the title

Points Bucket

  1. Copy the API Endpoint URL by clicking the copy icon next to it.

Copy Endpoint PS

  1. Go back to IFTTT and paste the URL in the URL section

IFTTTT API URL paste PS

  1. Change Method to POST, and Content Type to application/json

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 1.32.47 PM

    1. Click in the body section, and type the following:

      {“key”:”Broc’s Points”,”value”:1}

      This tells IFTTT that every time you tell Alexa your trigger phrase (mine is Broc point in the example seen on step 9).

      Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 11.35.54 AM

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you copy the code from here make sure all of the quotation marks are straight up and down. Sometimes when these characters are copied they adopt some of the formatting from wherever you copied them from.

  1. Click create action.
  2. Click create recipe.

Click Create Recipe

If you’d like to put multiple people on the scoreboard, all you have to do is go through this process again using the same API URL Endpoint, and create an amazon trigger with a different name.

Configure Your Dashboard

Once you’ve got Alexa sending data into your points bucket, you’ll want to make sure the data is represented accurately. Currently, the best way to see all the points you and your opponents have accrued is through the histogram graph type on tiles. You can adjust your tiles to histograms like so:

  1. Click “Edit Tiles” in the top left of your dashboard. A blue bar will appear.

Edit Tiles

  1. Click the tile you wish to edit, and you’ll see this screen pop up

Tile Config

  1. Simple click the tile type and change it to histogram, and then click close.

Histogram

Crush the Competition

Now all you have to do to add a point to your dashboard is to say, “Alexa! Trigger whoever point!”

You can go through this same process to create a dashboard that keeps track of all of the points of whatever competition you’re running. Whether it’s a digital douchebag jar for your friend group, or a friendly competition between co-workers, you’ll have a ton of fun telling Alexa to add points to your dashboard.

 

2 Responses

  1. […] a Home for Your DO Button Data OR use the same bucket you created from the Alexa tutorial. If you’ve already done the Alexa tutorial, you don’t have to do this step again. You […]

  2. […] In my dashboard, I thought it would be cool to have my clock in and clock out times listed as well as have some text that would say if I’m currently working or not. To do this, I simply made an IFTTT recipe that tied together Amazon Alexa and the Maker Channel. When I told Alexa, “Trigger Clock Jeff In.” It not only triggered the Google Sheets recipe, but it triggered my maker channel recipe to send a message to Initial State that said, “Working Now.” I also did the same for “Trigger Clock Jeff Out,” and had it send “Not Working.” You can see how to use the IFTTT maker channel with Initial State in my Amazon Alexa Scoreboard post here. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

« »

Initial State Technologies, Inc.
Scroll to top
Initial State