8

According to Amazon, Alexa can read certain Kindle books.

Alexa reads Kindle books eligible for Text-to-Speech (an experimental reading technology that allows supported Amazon devices to read Kindle books aloud).

Concept

If it is possible I want to use this feature but instead of reading Kindle books, Alexa should read custom texts or reports made by some smart-home devices. So during the day different devices would report different events like:

  • Temperature sensor: New "highest temperate ever measured": 30 °C.
  • Connected dog-feeder: The dog food container is empty.
  • Some kind of sensor: This happened while you was away and you should know about.

Basically a service would collect all the data from the sensors and would create a report file that could be used with Alexa like:

  • Alexa, read 'Afternoon home report'.
  • Alexa, read 'Morning home report'.

(So I could ask Alexa at the end of the day "What happened today?" and it could tell me by reading the reports.)

Problems

The reports should be in a correct format to make them eligible for Alexa to read them. I found something about it on Amazon forum, Can I enable Text to Speech on any personal document?

Only if that document will open in the Reading App. Word documents, for instance, that have to be opened in a Word Process app or PDFs that have to opened in a PDF Reader can't use the Text to Speech feature.

All documents in a Kindle compatible format should have Text to Speech available but I send all mine via the Amazon Cloud and Amazon converts them to the Kindle format. A tap in the center of the screen reveals the "Play" icon in the bottom left hand corner.

Also I found an app on Amazon which called "Pdf to Speech" and Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing tool "KindleGen v2.9", but still unclear how it should be done.

Possible solution

One way I have found on Reddit describes the following:

You don't need a kindle device, but you will need to download the kindle app. This gives you a special kindle address, to which you'd mail the PDF, which puts it in your kindle library.

I have several devices, each loaded with the kindle app. So I have several kindle addresses, one per device (me-ipad@kindle, me-nexus@kindle, etc).

The good news: once you email it, the PDF lives in the Kindle Cloud, so it's accessible to all...... Amazon related Kindle page

To have Alexa read it: 1) open Alexa app, go to books, tap desired book; or 2) Alexa, read (title) ..... Amz related Alexa page


All in all, is this Kindle compatible format is actually .mobi? What steps should I perform to make the reports available by Alexa? (I would like to avoid the e-mailing stuff first if possible.)

6

There's a base decision you'll have to make. Either using the read a book function or using an Alexa skill of your own. Only the latter one let's you use Alexa, what happened today? That phrase seems to start the build-in flash briefing—even though I couldn't find an entry in any documentation confirming it I tested it. You should also check if the read a book function is even available in your geography—for me, here, it's not.

Since you already need a system to aggregate a sensor data—otherwise you couldn't generate your report, you can also look into the skill route. Instead of generating an ebook you could also generate an rss-feed. If building a skill or having these information in a feed that will be hard or impossible to properly secure is out of the question the following information won't help you.


There are basically three Alexa skill types and you'll certainly need one of them to have Alexa say anything at all. For obvious reasons Smart Home Skill API is out, since you don't want to control stuff. That leaves the Custom Interaction Model or the Flash Briefing Skill API.

AlexaSkillTypes

The latter one is triggered by Alexa, give me the news. In the Alexa app you're able to define which Flash Briefing skills are triggered. Those can be several and they can be ordered however you like. If you're okay with the report you want to build to be in these information you can consider this skill type. The advantage of course being that the API already has a lot of stuff built in. The disadvantage is that your report is lodged in between the news report of the NY Times and the NBA results or whatever else you configure to be in your Flash Briefing.

The Flash Briefing API is what's actually triggered when you ask, Alexa, what happened today? It's one of the invocation utterances for the flash briefing. So your dream utterance is already pre-defined to use this and if you're set on the phrase it's even the only solution.

Since the interaction model is pre-defined there is only one Alexa skill page to configure.

FlashBriefingAPI

Then you'd only have to provide an rss-feed with the information as described here in the documentation. If you don't want to publish the information—which I assume considering the example—you don't need to publish the skill either. It will only be available for you(r Alexa account).

Drawback is that the feed cannot be password protected, which means essentially you can only use firewall rules to filter for the IPs the usual Alexa requests come from. If you build a custom skill with the custom model you can secure all you want.

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  • Sorry I was misleading, "What happened today?" was only a matter of speech. Basically I just want to listen Alexa telling some information, it can be "Alexa, read 'What happened today?'" as well. Nevertheless using rss feed can be a good solution. – Bence Kaulics Jan 24 '17 at 19:29
3

You can use skills such as the My Reader skill, which can read any text you send to it through its servers.

Once you have set it up, the steps are as follows.

How to use - Quick Start

  1. Send the URL to 619-473-2337 (6194READER) from your phone by following steps for different browsers on your phone: https://s3.amazonaws.com/reader.help/How_to_Register_Phone_Number.pdf

  2. In a few seconds, you will receive message with an article index number, total chapter count and the article title.

  3. Launch the skill: “Alexa, ask My Reader to read.”

There are a number of other skills which do a similar function, such as Text to Voice, depending on what exactly you'd like to do.

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  • This is a link only answer that will become useless as soon as the link breaks, Answers need to contain the substance and link only be for reference. – hardillb Mar 20 at 9:01
  • 2
    Hi @cadobe, I've edited your answer based on your suggestion to make sure it's not just a link elsewhere. Be sure to read the tips on answers containing just a hyperlink, and thanks for the suggestion! – Aurora0001 Mar 20 at 10:06
  • Thank you. No problem. – cadobe Mar 21 at 13:51

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