The idea for CheerUP is inspired by the growing number of university students who are struggling with depression and stress. Students are often required to face challenges not only in their academic studies but also in their daily lives. We, as university students ourselves, decided to take this problem into our own hands to put an end to this it. This is how CheerUP was created.
What it does
CheerUP, is an AWS-based voice-control application that helps students release stress and recover from depression. It chats with the user and detects if the user is upset, then gives advice, shows compassion and communicates calming and motivational messages to make the user feel better.
How we built it
The techniques we used to build this application include Amazon Web Services(AWS) and Alexa Skills Kit Developer Console. We used AWS Lambda functions to host our applications while using Amazon Developer to develop the Alexa Skill content in node.js. This application is easily and highly customizable in order to meet the user's different needs and concerns.
Challenges we ran into
During the process of implementing CheerUP, we ran into many difficulties and challenges. As for our team, this is our first time working with Alexa and AWS, and therefore we all had very few experiences when dealing with this new technology. When we were trying to implement a skill for telling the user jokes, the intent (a set of Alexa responses activated from user inputs) had some trouble running, and we kept recieved incompatible responses from Alexa during test runs. In the beginning, we were struggling and had no idea how to solve this problem. However through skimming Alexa Skill documentation and communicating as a team, we figured that we were inputing out customized responses in the wrong intent fields. The application now will tell the user motivational quotes when they say 'Alexa I'm starting my day', or calm them if they have exam stress when 'Alexa exam stress' is said.
Another challenge our team faced was the lack of experience our team had. Two of our members have never been to a hackathon so getting two members adjusted to Canada's biggest hackathon was not an easy first time. Learning how to work together with strangers in such a short time can also be a challenge. Finding a path that combines everyone's ideas and makes everyone happy can be a struggle. We were able to overcome these challenges by setting realistic goals for ourselves and creating a project that solved a problem that we were all passion about and finding a small solution to it that we all felt confident in creating. We also took the time to explore several different options and feel them out before we decided on a specific project. Many of us are newer to programming and were able to learn so much from the experience. Not only did we solve a problem that some of us personally suffer from but we also made a huge advancement in our own programming experience.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
There are many accomplishments that we are particularly proud of. This is our first time working with AWS and designing Alexa skills, and we had zero prior experience with both. On the first night, none of us thought that we could build a finished application and have it running smoothly. Now we are proud to actually have a finished product!
What we learned
We have learned many new skills and techniques from this experience, including AWS, Alexa skills, Node.js, and JSON.