You’re trying to relax and enjoy some entertainment, and you’re choosing between a movie and a book. You have an amazing book with an intriguing plot that you can’t wait to read, however, the book simply can’t provide you with the same immersion of a blockbuster movie.

What do you do?

As online entertainment and streaming services continue to grow, books have become less popular in this current era. Movies and tv series are able to immerse their audience into the atmosphere allowing viewers to connect on a deeper level with the characters and becoming more invested. Books simply cannot keep readers immersed anymore. Along with the fact that the average attention span has decreased due to the internet and fast information, hundreds of thousands of unique, classical, mind twisting, heart wrenching books are left to simply collect dust. This is a problem that Bonfire can solve.

Bonfire finds and plays the perfect music to match what you’re reading. This helps set the mood and enhances the reading experience for readers immersing them into the story.

But why music you may ask?

Firstly, we found that the silence often felt suffocating, and that it took us out of the moment. When we read through a graphic novel and see the sound effects, we feel invested in the characters. The impact isn’t as prominent when you’re sitting in silence. Readers want to feel a connection with characters to live in the moment. It is too easy to feel disconnected and get distracted when sitting with a novel. Music will help cut out background noise and really bring readers into the moment. But most importantly, when the music syncs with the highs and lows, that moment is so gratifying.

Secondly, Music is proven to amplify feelings and emotions. It can evoke powerful emotional responses such as chills and thrills enhancing the reading experience for everyone. Music has the ability to prompt emotional mimicry. When one listens to a happy song they tend to feel happy, when someone listens to a sad song, one will tend to feel sad. This also enhances the reading experience allowing users to connect on a deeper level with the novel. Also, music has also been proven to help evoke imagination. As imagination is a crucial aspect of reading stories, music will only serve to strengthen the story telling.

When we read books, we tend to leave some music on in the background. Sometimes it fills in the silence and other times it drowns out background noise but at its best, the music syncs with the highs and lows of the story, expressing the scenes to their full potential. Granted, this rarely happens, but when it does, the moment is beautifully gratifying. That unparalleled feeling of immersion was what we wanted to capture with Bonfire.

So what if you could experience that with every book? What if you could sneak through the halls of Hogwarts past curfew? Or take down Goliath?

You can do that now.

Take hold of the moment with Bonfire. Reclaim the moment and experience the highs and lows of your favourite novels.

What it does

Bonfire will be able to bring books back into the norm and provide an opportunity for people to read hundreds of thousands of unique and beautiful stories.

With the help of machine learning, Bonfire performs sentiment analysis on the book as the reader reads. Depending on the emotion of the passage, a complementary song is chosen. Bonfire keeps track of which page the reader is on, so the music dynamically shifts to match the tone of the passage.

For example, during the Yule Ball in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire cheerful waltz music will play to fit the theme of a celebratory ball. In addition, at the climax of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, sad ominous music would play to complement the tragic death of Cederic. As the reader continues reading and as the themes change, the music will slowly change, fading in and out as necessary.

How we built it

We built Bonfire with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Django. Our Django backend handles the pdf scanning and sentiment analysis, while our JavaScript supports the music player. Our sentiment analysis is powered by the text2emotion library.

Challenges we ran into

Initially, we wanted to build our app as a Chrome Extension, but we ran into difficulties when modifying the content on the client’s page and fetching page numbers, among other things. We made a crucial decision to pivot to a web app halfway through, which proved to be a good decision. Another challenge we had was tweaking the ML to accurately analyze the text to find the proper moods and themes.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We’re extremely proud of our innovative and groundbreaking idea. In addition to that, our clean and intuitive user interface is a key feature of our application. We are also proud of our creative application of machine learning to perform sentiment analysis on the specified text.

What we learned

Some things we learned were how to build a chrome extension from scratch and how to develop an accurate ML based sentiment analyzer.

What's next for Bonfire

The future is bright for Bonfire. We plan to expand the library of available songs, and fetch songs from an API by using sentiment analysis to determine the mood and theme of the song. We also plan to account for a greater variety of themes and emotions such as stress or calmness. In addition, in the future, Bonfire will become a chrome extension allowing for easier use and a wider variety of text formats.

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