Telephony made a huge leap forward last week. It’s insanely easy to build a voice chatbot for phone calls!
Last week the Amazon Chime SDK team released a whole pile of new features, including native integration with Amazon Polly for text to speach, and Amazon Lex for chatbots. Gone are the days of “press 1 for this, or 2 for that.” You can now just talk to a human sounding voice in many languages. You can build the bot in the Lex console and test it live. Then you can connect that to a phone number with literally a few lines of code. In fact, you don’t even need to know how to code! You can literally just follow the directions in the example code and paste one line into a file, run one command, and then it just works!
I wrote an official AWS blog called “Enable conversational chatbots for telephony using Amazon Lex and the Amazon Chime SDK” that spells it all out. There’s a whole GitHub Repository that lays out a “workshop” style approach to learning how to use the Amazon Chime SDK, along with fully functional example code that you can use as a starting point.
How Do I learn to do this?
It’s not hard at all to do modern, cloud-based telephony development. You literally just need to know how to write a lambda function. With just a few hours of play, you can walk through a few examples. The code examples were designed to lead you step by step from simple to more complex. There’s detailed documentation on the programming model and some hints and suggestions to make it easier to develop lambda functions.
There is also full deployment automation included, using the Amazon Cloud Development Kit (CDK). If you follow me at all, you know my policy is “start with the deployment automation and then do the design.” The repo even has documentation on how the CDK automation is organized.
Wait, what? I can get a real phone number?
Yep. In about 20 countries. You can rent the phone number. In the US the list price is #1/month. It’s a real phone number. And you control it, using software.
What can I build?
Anything that uses a phone call! And more! Seriously. Here’s a quick idea: want to make your own Google Phone number? Spiff up the “Call and Bridge” demo! You don’t need to prompt for the number to dial, since you know your own number. Just change it so that Amazon Polly says “now connecting to Jane, please wait a moment” and then bridge the call to you!
The question really isn’t “what can I build?” The real question is “what can’t you build? And why not built it today?”