Amazon's latest bid to boost its smart assistant's skill set is centered around kids. Oh, and a big pile of money. Alexa Skills Challenge: Kids wants Alexa tricks aimed at kids under the age of 13, with the best ones claiming cash prizes from a fund of $250,000. The overall winner will claim $25,000, so a farm yard animal noise generator won't cut it. All eligible participants in the challenge will also pick up a limited-edition Echo Dot, and there's dedicated prizes for high school and university student devs.
Amazon is looking for educational or fun vocal tricks for its voice assistant profile, having added kids skill functionality back in August. The company apparently wants to make its smart assistant a "valuable service" for the entire family -- and that includes distracting / educating the little 'uns.
Bringing together smart devices and kids is a delicate business: Mattel recently canned its Aristotle project, its own smart device set to launch in 2018.
As reported in the New York Times, the decision came after child advocacy groups, lawmakers and parents raised concerns about the impact the artificial intelligence device could have had on children's privacy, development and well-being. Many said that babies and older children shouldn't be encouraged to form bonds with devices that were constantly collecting data. Amazon hasn't faced such criticism just yet.
For those tempted by that cash price, Amazon offers up plenty of developer tips on its site to get people started.