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Alexa Skill

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by tantalus, Jan 1, 2019.

  1. tantalus

    tantalus · Member

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    In case it of interest: I wrote an Alexa skill for myself, and was persuaded to publish it so others can use it.

    People who use Alexa can search for a skill called Pill Tray - completely free to use.

    It is not a reminder, but a log of when you take tablets. Also I haven't attempted to make this specific to actual drugs, there are two many issues with correctly identifying similar sounding medicines. Instead, you simply log "Morning tablets" etc., just like a pill tray. It is down to you to remember what your "Morning tablets" routine is, the skill merely logs that you have taken it.

    TO USE

    First, you need to find and enable the skill, Pill Tray.

    Then to use it, you say "Alexa, open Pill Tray" to start.

    You will be told of the last two medications you have noted. You can then tell the skill what you are taking now, by saying one of the following

    "Breakfast tablets"
    "Morning tablets"
    "Lunchtime tablets"
    "Afternoon tablets"
    "Evening tablets"
    "Night-time tablets"

    It is not necessary to use all the labels, just use the ones that fit your medication schedule.

    There is also a seventh label, called "Pain Relief" which can be used for any tablet of this sort that doesn't fit a regular medication schedule.

    Asking for "History" (or "List") will read back the last 5 medications you took, rather than just the last 2.

    Saying "None" will end the skill and not record anything.

    If you find this useful, or have suggestions for it, feel free to tell me of them. If it is possible to add features without making the skill too complicated, I'll certainly consider it.

    I make nothing out of this, I wrote the skill because I had a need for something like this, and I found it fun to develop.
     
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  2. zauberflote

    zauberflote Prediabetes · Well-Known Member

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    @tantalus this is cool! I wonder if you can enlarge (or separate out entirely) the “pain med” section, make it a customizable reminder, give it the ability to log a few different meds (perhaps customizable by the user?) and take it over to Bonesmart.org . It’s a joint replacement forum similar to this one. There might be interest there. After joint replacement we go on various pain meds for some weeks. I myself used my phone’s alarm and a paper chart, but there are Alexa afficionadi everywhere!
     
  3. tantalus

    tantalus · Member

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    I'll have a think about it. The problem with making it customisable is Alexa's ability to recognise the words.

    My first, truly awful, version of this tried to actually use free text, so you could say anything, but half the time you would get nonsense. Then I tried a very ambitious version with a large custom vocabulary, containing over a thousand common drugs. That's when I found that many common medicines differ in name by just one syllable. :D

    Which is why I went generic. By defining fixed key distinctive phrases (i.e. breakfast, morning etc), which are hard-coded in the skill, I get a high level of correct identification by Alexa first time. I can't currently do that with a variable (i.e. customizable) name.

    It is something that I am interested in improving on, so the suggestion is appreciated.
     
  4. tantalus

    tantalus · Member

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    Probably also worth mentioning that it it only occurred to me a few weeks back the situation where two people may be sharing the same Echo/Alexa gadget.

    My plan is to make the default the existing system, but also let the user(s) optionally add named users to their device. Of course, this will make the conversation a little longer, as it will need to ask who is logging their medicines (the default solo case will not bother), but I may be able to streamline this with something like

    "Alexa, open Pill Tray for Colin"

    NOTE: The current skill does not support this yet, so don't try it! It is just an idea.
     
  5. Davie boy

    Davie boy Type 2 · Member

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  6. Juicyj

    Juicyj Type 1 · Expert
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    This would also be brilliant for insulin dependent diabetics too - it's quite common to forget to take say 'basal' insulin (i've done this a couple of times myself) and so a reminder would be excellent to help those who need it :)
     
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  7. donnellysdogs

    donnellysdogs Type 1 · Master

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    Totally agree..I wish it would remind me of how much to take at 3am in the morning when I’m so sleepy and find it difficult to concentrate..
     
  8. tantalus

    tantalus · Member

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    Some great and interesting responses. I'm busy for the next week or so - taking a break to celebrate my 60th! :)

    The other complication is that Amazon periodically offers rewards, or "perks", to developers who write skills. This skill is one of four that I am currently being assessed on, and I don't want to make changes until they've made their award - it would be just my luck to take the skill down just as they are looking at it. ;)

    But when I get back, and Amazon have done their stuff, I'll be happy to consider adding some features.
     
  9. tantalus

    tantalus · Member

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    Regarding using it for insulin; would it be better for me to develop a new skill dedicated for that? It would be easy to clone the existing skill and change the details as appropriate; rather than try to build everything into one skill.

    Have a think about it - if anyone wants to come up with a good skill name, and what key words you would want to use for tracking; also what other features an insulin tracking skill might need? I am totally open to ideas.

    (Of course, if I did create a new skill, there would be absolutely nothing to stop anyone using Pill Tray for tablets, and the insulin skill for their insulin.)
     
  10. tantalus

    tantalus · Member

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    Being a type 2 Metformin user, I know nothing about insulin. But is it just a regular shot, or is their some kind of calculation involved, depending on blood sugar, carb intake etc? If the latter, I might be able to build in a calculator, as an option.
     
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