We built this initial skill once after graduation to motivate ourselves. Then COVID-19 came and me and my friend  have been working from home from almost 1 month now. After few days, we realized that self isolation is taking over our zest for life. Scrolling through social media or watching hundreds of different content was of no help at all, in fact if was making it more difficult.  Isolation & loneliness can easily take over your goals and as passionate engineers we wanted to fix that. So we decided to re-build this skill that motivates us on a frequent bases to keep our mental strength on top while in quarantine.

What it does

The skill plays motivational audio straight to your Alexa/Web App from your favorite Instagram Influencers.  Either ask: "Ask Morning Ninja to motivate me" or Go to Alexa Settings and schedule it to play every morning (or in our case every few hours)

How we built it

As we wanted to build both Alexa and Web App we decided to go with the service based architecture and front it on a Webpage and AWS lambda (Alexa). Service: We built a Play Scala based service that we hosted on Heroku. The microservice is connected to Google Firebase and Instagram APIs. We handpicked bunch of influencers from Instagram and stored it on Firebase. On trigger of the motivation audio, it picks those influences run our own recommendation algorithm (based on likes/dislikes of influencer, post counts etc)  and fetches video post and plays as audio. Web: Web is a minimalist javascript based app that calls the service and simply plays it. Alexa: Alexa is triggered by Lambda which basically calls our Play Scala service to trigger the audio. Lambda contains the logic for Alexa functionalities like play, stop etc..

Our entire project is Open Source and hosted on Github

Challenges we ran into

The biggest challenge for us was to define this Product. We wanted something that motivates us yet keeps us away from scrolling through social media feeds and negative news all around the world. After lots of internal MVP testing and iterations we came up with this solution that can work even after the COVID 19. That can motivate us as Alarm clock or even while commuting to work. We also ran into a technical challenge of learning how to build Alexa skill (This is our first skill). After lots of tutorials, demo projects and love for coding, we learned how to do it.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are proud of everything this skill has become. We have been using it regularly now and it is helping us a lot. We have set up this skill to play in the morning, around lunch time and in the evening (after work finishes) and it is helping us big time while in quarantine.

What's next for Motivation Ninja

We want to make it more social and smart something that is beyond motivational audios and basically INSTAGRAM FOR AUDIO.

Try It out



alexa, api, heroku, html, instagram, scala, web

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