Purpose

We have built this product to deliver the latest news and other helpful information in various categories such as product advertisements, government/community announcements, and locally available nonprofit programs. By utilizing the text-to-speech technology of AWS (Polly), this lets the VIU (visually impaired users, those who are elderly and blind) address their common basic needs and challenges they are facing every day by enabling them to reach out to companies, agencies, and non-profit organizations who will partner with us. The more VIU, the more we can determine their needs, scale, and organize nonprofit programs to suit their needs in their respective communities. This is possible with the use of mobile phone gesture movements and natural-sounding voice audio that the VIU can hear.

Inspiration

Our grandparents - they loved reading the news every day during breakfast. But as they grew older, it wasn't the same anymore and it got too tiring for them to read.

And our friend, Isaac - he loves to read news and articles about Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. But due to Glaucoma, an eye disease that turned him blind over time, he wasn't able to do the same thing anymore. Imagine being cut off from the world due to old age or eye disease.

What it does

Listen to the news with gesture-based controls – swipe & tap! Over 20+ languages to choose as the voice reader! And finally, personalized information collected and generated from the gradual usage of the app.

How I built it

For the technology stack, there is no doubt that AWS provides all the tools we need to continue building this app. For server and domain registry, we have used AWS Route 53. We also made sure that our connection is secured using SSL provided by AWS Certificate Manager. For static website hosting, we have used AWS S3 and CloudFront to make the pages load faster. For authentication, we have used AWS Cognito, which allows email verification during user sign in. And it also allows users to login using Facebook, Google, and more. We used AWS Lambda serverless technology to fetch the news and articles in text format and save them to DynamoDB. And finally, we used AWS Polly to convert text into MP3 files that the browser can play.

Challenges I ran into

AWS DynamoDB is a NoSQL database that doesn't allow multiple keys to query. We had to improvise on how we would save and fetch data using a single key identifier.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

We were able to build a prototype in a month and it is now up and running in the following link: audionews.softwarebeing.org

What I learned

I learned front-end technologies that are useful to improve User Experience. I was also able to use AWS Polly which is a text-to-speech engine with real-life human voices.

What's next for audionews.softwarebeing.org

On the development side, we are still at the very early stage of building our first product right now. We would like to focus on making the User Experience as smooth as possible and improve the product's backend and machine learning capabilities. This includes integration of Alexa/AI skills and AWS Personalize to engage the visually impaired users in a more personable manner.

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