Drone in flight
Amazon launched AWS IoT to manage and analyse The Internet of ThingsGetty Images

A voice-controlled drone, a project that enables hands-free drone-flying by converting voice commands into remote-controlled instructions, is the winner of the AWS IoT Mega Contest, a competitive hardware hacking event.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) held the event in January along with Hackster.io, a community dedicated to learning hardware. Nearly a thousand people competed and the results were announced on 11 February by Jeff Barr, chief evangelist at AWS.

The project is basically an application for Amazon's voice-activated Echo personal assistant device, built using the company's Alexa Skills Kit. The application translates voice input into radio signals for the Raspberry Pi board. It uses 3DR IRIS+ quadcopter, the open-source drone. A simple USB connection is used to connect the drone's radio antenna to the Raspberry Pi board. Chris Synan from Austin, Texas, the creator of the drone, demonstrated his project with a video that captured his conversation with Alexa, the artificial intelligence software animating Echo.

The other first-prize winner was Baby NAP (Night Activity Program), a system using RFID, infrared, and light and sound sensors to gather data about a sleeping baby, created by Australian Marian Mihailescu. This system records and analyses the behaviour of sleeping (or not sleeping) infants. A dashboard would enable parents to provide intelligent insights into the baby's sleeping patterns and preferences.

Internet of Things (IoT) applications are the next big revolution that await our world. Amazon is keen on tapping into the huge business potential of IoT. In 2015, Amazon launched AWS IoT, a platform for building, managing and analysing IoT. It is a managed cloud platform "that lets connected devices easily and securely interact with cloud applications and other devices", according to Amazon. Home automation consumers are already using Echo to control various electronic equipment in their homes.