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Confluency - Cerner Hackfest 2016

3 min read · tagged speech, mobile application

Created as part of Cerner’s 2016 Hackfest, Confluency is an Ionic application that tracks children’s vocabulary development over time. I had the idea for this application after watching Deb Roy’s TED Talk, which I reviewed in an earlier post. The original idea was to use a speech-to-text API to record conversations with children, create a wordbank, and provide insights into language development. Our target audience would be parents and caretakers working with patients suffering recovering from strokes or head trauma.

I teamed up with three other KU undergrads to tackle the project. We used the Ionic Framework to create the app, in part because of the kick-ass Ionic Creator product they offer, which allows for drag and drop prototyping.

The initial goal was to use IBM’s Speech to Text API to handle translating audio clips into our “wordbank” JSONs. If you take their demo out for a spin, you’ll see just how perfect the JSONs produced match our needs. Each JSON contains a transcript containing the translation of the highest ranked translations, and also includes a list of word alternatives and their confidence ratings when it fails to find a 100 percent match. The JSON below illustrates:

{
  "results": [
    {
      "word_alternatives": [
        {
          "start_time": 0.95,
          "alternatives": [
            {
              "confidence": 0.7399,
              "word": "what"
            },
            {
              "confidence": 0.26,
              "word": "what's"
            }
          ],
          "end_time": 1.39
        },
        {
          "start_time": 1.43,
          "alternatives": [
            {
              "confidence": 1,
              "word": "a"
            }
          ],
          "end_time": 1.59
        },
        {
          "start_time": 1.59,
          "alternatives": [
            {
              "confidence": 1,
              "word": "beautiful"
            }
          ],
          "end_time": 2.54
        },
        {
          "start_time": 2.57,
          "alternatives": [
            {
              "confidence": 0.9998,
              "word": "day"
            }
          ],
          "end_time": 3.09
        },
        {
          "start_time": 3.17,
          "alternatives": [
            {
              "confidence": 0.9816,
              "word": "outside"
            },
            {
              "confidence": 0.0184,
              "word": "side"
            }
          ],
          "end_time": 4.1
        }
      ],
          "confidence": 0.842,
          "transcript": "what a beautiful day outside ",
          "timestamps": [
            [
              "what",
              0.95,
              1.39
            ],
            [
              "a",
              1.43,
              1.59
            ],
            [
              "beautiful",
              1.59,
              2.54
            ],
            [
              "day",
              2.57,
              3.09
            ],
            [
              "outside",
              3.17,
              4.1
            ]
          ]
        },
        {
          "transcript": "what's a beautiful day outside "
        },
        {
          "transcript": "what a beautiful day out side "
        }
      ],
      "final": true
    }
  ],
  "result_index": 0
}

Confession: I failed to get the API working for the app. I could not figure out how to properly format the XMLHttpRequests. Since our application did not have a built-out backend, I had to make the API calls client-side which is a much bigger hassle than using the service with nodejs. I first ran into CORS (Cross-Origin-Resource-Sharing) issues trying to make the call from localhost. Thankfully, Ionic has a page dedicated to these issues, and I was able to get a proxy set up to make the calls. But even with the proxy, I still continued to run into authentication issues, evening using specific credentials from IBM Bluemix.

I plan migrating the app over to node after my internship finishes up, using this awesome tutorial as a jumping off point. I’m convinced my previous issues were due to my inability to read documentation. I think the app has some true potential and I look forward to developing it further.


Avatar of Evan NicholsEvan Nichols Software Engineer and outdoor enthusiast.