Inspired by Akshay's recent trip to Italy, our team realized that there was not an easy way to prepare for a trip where you didn't speak the language. We knew apps like Duolingo existed, but Duolingo needs an internet connection to function, and knowing there such an expansive curriculum, there is no way to just learn key phrases you would need to know. Duolingo's curriculum (and other language learning software's curricula) are designed for somebody attempting to become fluent in the language. The grammar and vocabulary they cover are good to know in general, but are not very useful for a traveller trying to make their way around the country.
What it does
Travel-Me is an app that's focused on a traveller going to a place where they don't know the language. It aims to teach the language, but not in a way that would lead them to become fluent- rather a way that would prepare them for basic everyday situations. Its user-friendly interface allows travelers to access phrases that they really need, in real time, and listen to pronunciation. Because it is not wifi-dependent, travelers can use Travel-Me whenever they want to in order to access words, phrases, or practice what they already know. In addition, Travel-Me comes with a translator add-on powered by IBM Watson, so that if travelers are connected to wifi, they are able to look up things they want to know.
How we built it
We used the ionic framework to create a cross platform iOS, Android, and html5 app. We also used IBM Watson to power our translator. In addition, we recorded ourselves and integrated audio files into our program.
Challenges we ran into
None of us had ever used Ionic before, so it was a real challenge figuring out how to navigate it, and how to install it. Our team fell a little behind in that we weren't able to download Ionic onto two of our computers for almost 4 hours. 2 out of the 3 members of our team had little to no coding experience before, and no one was used to this platform, so everyone was learning as they went. We also had trouble integrating IBM Watson into Ionic, as well as connecting the audio files with our Ionic tiles.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We got 2 (one brand new and one relatively new) coders to help create the app, and they have come a long way in their coding abilities. In the end, we were able to successfully integrate IBM Watson and our sound files into Ionic. We were able to create a user-friendly interface in a short amount of time, and even add some features we didn't plan in our original design. Akshay also solved the puzzle.
What we learned
Akshay learned how to code in TypeScript and Ionic. Samy learned how to use Atom. Maya learned everything. We all learned a lot about sound files, IBM Watson, CSS and Spanish.
What's next for Travel-Me
In the future, we really want more games, we want to be able to save/download the translations you make through IBM Watson, and we would love to add more languages.