Pete Haas and Ryan Jordan Win Amazon Alexa Hackathon Grand Prizes at VOICE 2020

The Amazon Alexa Hackathon winners were announced today with Pete Haas and Ryan Jordan taking home over $2,500 each in prizes for their winning Skills; one a Shell Game and the other for a COVID Stats Skill. 

More than 200 participants competed in the virtual Hackathon for over $6,000 in prizes. The competition, which ran from the start of VOICE 2020 on Monday, October 5th through Thursday, October 15th, included categories Best Use of Alexa Conversations and Best Use of Web API for Games and Alexa Presentation Language. 

Along with their Skills design and build, teams had to include a 60 second commercial or pitch video on YouTube which described the problem their skill addressed and a brief demonstration of how it worked.

Ryan Jordan won for his COVID Stats Skill in the Best Use of Alexa Conversations category and Pete Haas won for his Shell Game Skill in the Best Use of Web API for Games and Alexa Presentation Language category -- each team winning $2,500 in devices. The runner up teams Monique Howard, Melissa Smith, Leah Erb, Lamiae Hana, Chris Hagberg, Dr. Christie Sosnowski, and Ronit Robinson, were recognized with prizes for their Color Together Skill, and William Rongholt with Cards of Wonder also won $600 in devices.

A panel of judges evaluated the Hackathon over the two weeks and included: 

The panel of judges in conjunction with Amazon Alexa’s judges evaluated submissions based on how well the individuals or teams used Alexa Conversations or Alexa Presentation Language or Alexa Web API. Top entries included:

The winner of the most innovative conversational experience prize category, Ryan Jordan, created the COVID Stats Skill to try out several different features, including the APLA design system for background audio, dynamic use of tables and graphs in APL and the Conversations system to collect data from users including by list and overall. 

“I really wanted to find clever ways to show a ton of data without it feeling cluttered and give other useful information using things like charts and graphs,” Jordan said. 

Shell Game, which won for Most Innovative Use of Multimodal Technologies, was created by Pete Haas and is based on the popular game. Users are able to use their voice or touch the screen to interact with the Shell game. 

“This was my first APL project, so I spent a lot of time creating the shell shuffling animation,” Haas said. “I spent a lot of time making them look natural.”

The Amazon Alexa Hackathon was presented as part of VOICE 2020, a virtual summit that ran from October 5 to October 15and featured over 80 talks, panels, and workshops about creating, building, and marketing for voice technology.

“The Voice 2020 Amazon Alexa Hackathon went entirely virtual this year which allowed us to accept submissions from 14 different countries!” hackathon judge and Amazon Alexa, Senior Solution Architect Justin Jeffress said. “Thanks for building skills to expand the capabilities of Alexa while surprising and delighting your customers!”

Although certification was a prerequisite to winning the hackathon, COVID Stats cannot be published to the Alexa Skills store because it doesn’t meet our guidelines regarding COVID-19. However, we still would like to recognize the work and creativity that Ryan put into his skill by combining Alexa Conversations with Alexa Presentation Language to provide a conversational interface for statistical data and charts