Our inspiration came from talking to people that enjoy birdwatching from the comfort of their own homes. Due to the pandemic, they have been unable to travel much so the types of birds they see are limited. We wanted to provide an opportunity for people to still listen to and learn about new types of birds without requiring them to travel.
What it does
Bird Tour is an interactive birdwatching tour in the Rocky Mountains. Users can choose which trails to take, and their decisions impact the types of birds they will encounter. Users can listen to bird calls, learn new facts from the guide, and even attempt to answer questions about the birds.
How we built it
Based on our inspirations, we created a persona who is curious, likes birdwatching, and is open to technology. However, our persona had limited bird knowledge and was stuck at home. They were looking to apply bird knowledge to real-life birdwatching.
We had Alexa take the role of a guide to teach about birds and lead users on an interactive journey. We imagined what the user would hear and see during the birdwatching tour. This allowed us to make a more conversational design. To create a lifelike experience, we collected public domain bird call noises from the National Parks Service and used Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) to synthesize the bird calls, environment soundscapes, and the guide's voice. Also, there are small quizzes to create more interactions.
Challenges we ran into
The challenge was that we wanted to create a lifelike experience. The environment soundscapes and bird calls needed to collocate perfectly with the guide's voice. There were many different sentence lengths and bird calls that needed to be adjusted. This meant that the SSML formed a huge, hierarchy structure.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
It was difficult to get the tone of the answers correct. Since we used a synthetic voice, the dialogue needed to be written in a way that didn't sound snarky when a user said an incorrect answer. We are proud of the final dialogue we wrote which keeps with the friendly and encouraging voice and tone we were aiming for.
What's next for Trip Planner
We plan to expand the library of bird sounds and facts so that users can encounter a greater variety of birds on their tours.