Public speaking is a critical skill in our lives. The ability to communicate effectively and efficiently is a very crucial, yet difficult skill to hone. For a few of us on the team, having grown up competing in public speaking competitions, we understand too well the challenges that individuals looking to improve their public speaking and presentation skills face. Building off of our experience of effective techniques and best practices and through analyzing the speech patterns of very well-known public speakers, we have designed a web app that will target weaker points in your speech and identify your strengths to make us all better and more effective communicators.

What it does

By analyzing speaking data from many successful public speakers from a variety industries and backgrounds, we have established relatively robust standards for optimal speed, energy levels and pausing frequency during a speech. Taking into consideration the overall tone of the speech, as selected by the user, we are able to tailor our analyses to the user's needs. This simple and easy to use web application will offer users insight into their overall accuracy, enunciation, WPM, pause frequency, energy levels throughout the speech, error frequency per interval and summarize some helpful tips to improve their performance the next time around.

How we built it

For the backend, we built a centralized RESTful Flask API to fetch all backend data from one endpoint. We used Google Cloud Storage to store files greater than 30 seconds as we found that locally saved audio files could only retain about 20-30 seconds of audio. We also used Google Cloud App Engine to deploy our Flask API as well as Google Cloud Speech To Text to transcribe the audio. Various python libraries were used for the analysis of voice data, and the resulting response returns within 5-10 seconds. The web application user interface was built using React, HTML and CSS and focused on displaying analyses in a clear and concise manner. We had two members of the team in charge of designing and developing the front end and two working on the back end functionality.

Challenges we ran into

This hackathon, our team wanted to focus on creating a really good user interface to accompany the functionality. In our planning stages, we started looking into way more features than the time frame could accommodate, so a big challenge we faced was firstly, dealing with the time pressure and secondly, having to revisit our ideas many times and changing or removing functionality.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Our team is really proud of how well we worked together this hackathon, both in terms of team-wide discussions as well as efficient delegation of tasks for individual work. We leveraged many new technologies and learned so much in the process! Finally, we were able to create a good user interface to use as a platform to deliver our intended functionality.

What we learned

Following the challenge that we faced during this hackathon, we were able to learn the importance of iteration within the design process and how helpful it is to revisit ideas and questions to see if they are still realistic and/or relevant. We also learned a lot about the great functionality that Google Cloud provides and how to leverage that in order to make our application better.

What's next for Talko

In the future, we plan on continuing to develop the UI as well as add more functionality such as support for different languages. We are also considering creating a mobile app to make it more accessible to users on their phones.

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