Week 3: Start of Prototype

Welcome back to my process creating a voice-controlled dispenser. This week I was able to successfully submit my unique Alexa skill pertaining to this project. To reiterate, the skill I developed uses Amazon’s Alexa to command how much quantity a user wants from a substance. This is that the user can ask for “measure 4 cups of rice.” The skill is also able to store the last request that the user made. Previously I was having an issue when my skill was being reviewed by Amazon because I was not providing a valid example of how to interact with the skill. I also wasn’t able to test locally. However, after going through a couple of videos, I figured out that I had not specified the skill name in another required spot in the developer console, as seen in the images below. This was a very simple specification to overlook because the task had already been marked as done before I knew.

After making this small change, I was able to test locally. I also was approved to have my skill published on the Amazon skill store. Here are some samples of interaction with the Voice Measure skill that I created.

Below is also an example to demonstrate that the skill can support when the user only specifies the substance they would like to measure but not the number of cups. Additionally, it is important to note that the skill only supports when users asks for a measurement in cups at this point. The next goal is to update the skill to accept other forms of measurements such as weight, mg, liter, etc.

The user only asks to get rice. Alexa follows up by asking how much of rice the user wants.
The user specifies that they wants three cups of rice and Alexa knows that she has collected all the important information.

Apart from the skill, I was also able to draw up a first prototype blueprint. It is important to keep in mind that this design will go through several edits and iterations while testing. To explain, the dispenser has a hopper where the substance that will be measured is placed. Then there is a narrow pipe that has a spiral that spins when attached to a motor to dispense the substance into a container at the bottom end.

First Prototype Mock-Up

I began to create the 3D models on Tinker Cad for this prototype but had to take a step back and consider that these parts would take too long to print out. Therefore, I will only be printing variations of the spiral piece because it is the most important part. Other parts can use different materials lying around the Innovation Lab.

Lastly, the following images are pictures of inspiration that I found for the spiral dispensing mechanism. One is a spiral and the second is a pet feeder design where there are small blades through a cylinder. I will be testing these two designs the following week since printing will take some time.

Pet Feeder Design
Spiral Design

To conclude, I have shifted to the hardware piece of my project. Next week I hope to test my prototype with the two different spiral designs. I also hope I can begin to implement the Arduino piece into my project. Stay tuned for next time! 🙂

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