In this episode, Teri welcomes Dr. Steven Arkonovich, a professor of philosophy at Reed College by day and a leading Alexa skill developer by night.Welcome, Dr. Arkonovich!Dr. Arkonovich began developing Alexa skills in 2015 before the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) SDK was even released and is best known for having the top-rated Alexa skill for weather. Big Sky has over 2,500 reviews and a 4.5-star rating. That puts Big Sky in the top 20 for skill reviews overall and number one in the weather category. He comes on to talk about his experience in creating skills for Alexa and Bixby, and his award winning skill, Big Sky.Philosophy Professor to Voice Technology EnthusiastA combination of trying to put off doing a research project and an Achilles tendon injury is what ultimately led him into developing an interest in voice technology, He was confined to a chair for a long time and so he was looking for things to do.He got an Alexa device early on and he liked the technology. He kept hacking around with it to have it do things that it wasn’t capable of doing at the time, like play music on his stereo or turn his lights on and off.Coding ExperienceHe hadn’t done any coding before he got into Alexa skill development.The fact that critical aspects of philosophy and coding are similar helped him in his start as a skill developer.He wanted to integrate Alexa into his music server software so he could tell Alexa to play his preferred songs or albums. That was when he was referred to an actual Alexa skill developer who was doing some early Alexa projects.The developer wrote some basic code for him, but it had some issues and he decided to fix them himself. That’s how he started self-teaching himself the necessary coding to do to the skill development.His First SkillsIt was a lights integration skill which included color loops and timers, features that are not yet available in any Alexa skill or device.He would use it to control his lights.He also developed skills for Evernote integration, Google Calendar integrations, and other things.The Google Calendar integration skill is actually still available in the skill store.Big SkyThis is his flagship skill and it’s all about the weather.He created it to give him much more detailed and obscure weather information that at the time Alexa didn’t provide. Amazon has since upped their game in that regard.He didn’t think much about it when he published it, but then over a period of six months, people started using it and it became very popular.Facing Skill ImitationsHe has unique features in his skill (Big Sky), but he has witnessed some concerning issues with Amazon copying some of his features into their own weather skill.Asking for the weather from Big Sky or Alexa is similar in certain ways, but Big Sky is much more detailed in the forecasts it provides. It, for example, analyses the weather behind the scenes to find interesting patterns like whether the chance of rain is increasing or decreasing.The data it provides comes from the Dark Sky API.Takeaways From Alexa LiveHe loved the event and the features Amazon released.He thinks the Quick Links feature is going to be beneficial for all users including Alexa skill developers. The NFI tool kit will also be great for developers and users depending on how it will be implemented.Other features that he liked included Alexa Conversations (which was integrated into Big Sky).List of resources mentioned in this episodeDr. Steven Arkonovich on TwitterBig SkyThe Comprehensive Flash Briefing Formula CourseThe Voice DenOther useful resources:Voice in Canada: The Flash BriefingComplete List of Alexa CommandsAlexa-Enabled and Controlled Devices in CanadaTeri Fisher on TwitterAlexa in Canada on TwitterAlexa in Canada Facebook PageAlexa in Canada Community Group on FacebookAlexa in Canada on InstagramPlease leave a review on iTunesShopping on Amazon.ca See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Weather, Philosophy and Voice with Steven Arkonovich
Bixby Developers Chat
Show Notes:In this episode, we talk with Steven Arkonovich who is well known for writing the Big Sky weather capsule and is a professor of philosophy at Reed College.Steven shares how he got started with voice. He was a very early Alexa developer and was driven by wanting to control music playback and home automation devices.Steven is most well known for his Big Sky capsule and he shares his motivation for building Big Sky and how it has evolved over the years.We talk with Steven about what he teaches at Reed College and discuss the philosophy of ethics. What is ethical truth? What is the intersection of ethics and psychology?We discuss what value voice can bring to higher education and the largely untapped opportunities there.We wind up by talking about the future of voice. How voice becoming more conversational will enable and open up value. We talk about the future of voice and ambient computing.Links from the show:Steven's Twitter: @SArkonovichSteven's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/steven-arkonovich-6767a730/Reed College: https://www.reed.edu/All Bixby Developers Chat Episodes available at:bixbydev.buzzsprout.com/Guests: Steven ArkonovichSteven Arkonovich is a well know voice developer and a professor of philosophy at Reed College.Host:Roger Kibbe (@rogerkibbe) is a senior developer evangelist for Viv Labs/SamsungMore about BixbySamsung Bixby is a next-generation, AI platform that enables developers to build rich voice and conversational AI experiences for the Bixby Marketplace, and Bixby devices including phones, watches, televisions, smart appliances, and more.Bixby Developers Homepage - https://bixbydevelopers.com/Bixby Developers Github - https://github.com/bixbydevelopersBixby Developers YouTube Channel - https://www.youtube.com/c/bixbydevelopersBixby Developers Twitter - twitter.com/BixbyDevelopersBixby Developers Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/BixbyDevelopers/Bixby Developer News/Blogs - https://bixby.developer.samsung.com/Support the show (https://www.bixbydevelopers.com)
Steven Arkonovich Creator of Big Sky on Alexa - Voicebot Podcast Ep 90
The Voicebot Podcast
Steven Arkonovich is a professor of philosophy at Reed College by day and a leading Alexa skill developer by night. He began developing Alexa skills in 2015 before the ASK SDK was released and is best known for having the top-rated Alexa skill for weather. Big Sky has over 2,500 reviews and a 4.5-star rating. That puts Big Sky in the top 20 for skill reviews overall and number one in the weather category. Number 2 is Alexa’s native weather skill with about one-ninth the reviews and 2-star rating. An extraordinary element of Steve's story is that he had never done any software programming before starting with Alexa and he still developed some of the more complex skills on the platform. Steve earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from Berkeley and an undergraduate degree from UCLA.