Teenage girls come up with ingenious Alexa skill to help those struggling with alcohol addiction | The Sun

ELEORA Ajanaku, 16, from Cambridge, and Isi Holdom, 13, from Peckham, saw their ideas picked by a judging panel, which included Carol Vorderman, to win a nationwide competition.

After starting to code at the age of nine, Eleora proposed an Alexa skill called ‘Sober Tracker’ to help those struggling with alcohol addiction and substance abuse after being inspired by her grandfather’s own battle.

Her design would see users tell Alexa things such as ‘help’, ‘I need some support’ or ‘I can’t do this anymore’ to prompt the virtual assistant to ask further questions.

These will include asking how they are feeling on a scale of 1-10, if they need emergency assistance, or if they would like to chat, participate in breathing exercises or play a game.

Alexa would then facilitate these requests with the aim of supporting those on their sobriety journey.

Eleora said: “The issue of addiction is rarely openly discussed, so I saw the Alexa Young Innovator Challenge as an opportunity to support this community.

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"And help people feel seen while still allowing them to tackle their issues in private.

“I realised through my research that many people see Alexa as a companion, so I think it is perfectly placed to provide this support…

"With the skill I've coded intended to provide information and guidance in moments addicts need it the most.”

Isi Holdom came up with the idea of ‘Waste Wizard’, an Alexa application designed to promote a better understanding of recycling.

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It does this by giving guidance on what plastics can be recycled in different UK regions, and how.

By asking Alexa questions such as ‘how do I recycle this?’, ‘is this recyclable?’ or ‘check my recycling?’, the virtual assistant would then ask what sort of plastic it is and to look for the number in a triangle symbol.

When a user gives a number or description of the item, the virtual assistant will advise on whether it can be recycled or not, as well as reminders such as washing and squashing plastic bottles.

Isi said: “It is really confusing to know how to recycle different plastics properly.

“I know some councils provide a lot of information and I just wanted to help people on a bigger scale with understanding how to get it right.

“Alexa is a really accessible way to do this, and I hope one day to see my skill in practice.”

The pair were winners of Amazon’s inaugural Alexa Young Innovator Challenge, an AI coding contest, judged by a panel including STEM advocate Carol Vorderman and computing prodigy Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon.

Also among the judges was YouTuber and computer science graduate Tobi Brown, and Lauren Kisser, Amazon Technology Director.

Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon said: “Supporting women in accessing resources and information to help them consider careers in STEM has always been my number one priority.

“The tech revolution never stops and we know that AI is going to be a vital part of the future of the industry so it’s great to see the Alexa Young Innovator Challenge identifying some amazing young women who are taking the first steps on this journey to be our future scientists and technologists.”

Lauren Kisser, technology director at Amazon, said: “We were blown away by the innovation and imaginative thinking that was evident in many of the entries we received for the Alexa Young Innovator Challenge.

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“The challenge forms part of our Amazon Future Engineer programme, designed to upskill young people in Artificial Intelligence and computer science, and inspire them to consider a career in STEM.

“If more young people like Eleora and Isi play an active part imagining ways AI can be used to tackle social issues in their communities, just think of the good that technology could achieve in the future.”

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