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Naikel avatar image
Naikel asked

Workaround: Sending Notifications to Alexa

Hello all, I have seen that the feature most requested here is to tell Alexa to say something. I can actually do that. How? Here's my workaround: My Echo is near a PC (an Intel NUC) with Bluetooth. The PC has the Echo paired as a speaker normally. Something happens in one of my apps and I play the MP3 "You have pending notifications" through the Echo. Since I also have an Alexa Voice Service app, I recorded the Alexa voice so it sounds pretty similar (kinda hard to get the volume right and things like that but sounds ok). So sometimes I'm totally idle and my Echo says "You have pending notifications". Even if I'm listening to music on the Echo, it stops, says the sentence, and the music resumes. Since this might drive the wife mad, my skill also allows to turn off notifications and you will really need day/hours restrictions, you don't want the echo sending notifications at 3 am! Obviously this is for the people coding private Skills and not publishing anything like me.
alexa skills kitshowcase
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Matt Kruse avatar image
Matt Kruse answered
Wow, great idea! So if you're streaming music through Prime via the echo, the bluetooth audio will take precedence and play? That is fantastic. In theory, this opens the door to replacing the Echo's speech entirely. The Echo could listen and launch the appropriate Skill, and return no response. The Skill could then instead send a message to your bluetooth-connected computer, which would turn it into speech and play it back. You could even launch streaming music apps like spotify!
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Sushil Singh avatar image
Sushil Singh answered
Nice, It's simple and effective. Pretty easy to put another cheap hardware with bluetooth next to echo and code with both in tandem. Definately opens up many applications that were not possible.
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Matt Kruse avatar image
Matt Kruse answered
You know, I would really like to see this as a stand-alone thing. You could easily put a raspberry pi with bluetooth near your echo, and have it keep an open websocket to your web site. Then when your skill wants to output music or other noises, it would send a request to the pi and it would stream it to the echo. If you could integrate it together smoothly, I'd gladly pay $75 or more for the full solution. In another thread, the request for a metronome was brought up again. This is something no skill could ever do, but the combination of skill+controller(pi)+bluetooth could accomplish it. In theory. The possibilities are endless.
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Greg Crawford avatar image
Greg Crawford answered
I guess I don't understand why you just wouldn't connect a speaker to the raspberry pi and skip the fuss of a bluetooth connection to the Echo? Cheaper and more reliable.
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Naikel avatar image
Naikel answered
I know this question hasn't addressed to me but I wouldn't connect a speaker to a Raspberry Pi just because if the Echo is playing something then I'd hear both things and probably can't understand anything. The advantage of connecting via Bluetooth to the Echo is that the Echo stops the music, plays whatever sound comes from the bluetooth connection, and then resumes the music. In my particular case I just happened to have the Echo near a PC with bluetooth and I just thought the whole "notification via bluetooth" solution was cool. It's not like I bought a PC for that very purpose. This opens way too many uses that you can't do with Alexa right now. For example: Alexa open translator and translate to spanish "how do you do". Alexa will say "translating", and then in a couple of seconds say the sentence in a different language, that you streamed from your PC via Bluetooth using an expensive software like AT&T Natural Voices or something...
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Greg Crawford avatar image
Greg Crawford answered
I see...and for such a use case it makes sense. I just hope that ultimately there is a better solution allowing for direct delivery of sound files, streams, etc to the Echo rather than requiring an extra computer and bluetooth connection. The average user is never going to provide the extra computer, much less figure out all the bluetooth connections, etc.
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Matt Farley avatar image
Matt Farley answered
Ingenious! Thanks for sharing!
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James L Guinn avatar image
James L Guinn answered
I agree. I hope some additional functionality is coming. I can understand why Amazon would want to be cautious about allowing any developer push access into a customer's Echo (at 3 in the morning or any other time). Streaming content has its own issues with possible inappropriate or copyrighted content, but 3rd party developers are so limited without these two features Amazon is in danger of losing the lot of us to some other hardware solution (like Echo reinvented in a Raspberry Pi). We at least need a sandbox for private skill functionality. Maybe there will be multiple levels of trust or certification for some of these advanced features, but they really need it if Echo is ever going to be more than a glorified music player. Sort of a side-note, but Echo is pretty capable of responding to recordings and even herself. So, if the bluetooth solution wasn't feasible, you could have some other device (like a creepy talking doll or something fun like that) just pop off a recording to wake up your skill which can then check its database for anything it wants to push to you. My step-son and I did this one last night just for fun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOjGQgl_ljA
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