The story of Chatty Addie began when my three year-old daughter was playing with a talking app on an iPad. The app repeated back what she said, but then she started asking the app questions. After a few copycat responses, she turned to me in frustration and asked "Why won't it answer me?"
That question lit the spark of inspiration for Chatty Addie. Siri had recently been released, and it seemed the timing was right to create an app where children can have full conversations with a charmingly animated character.
My daughter was invaluable in helping during the development and testing process. She was involved from conception to completion. In a sense, the app was my gift to her. And now, it can be her gift to you and your family.
The current version has a wide variety of conversational topics, as well as educational and entertaining games and jokes. Addie makes a great virtual friend. But there is much more planned for the future.
Her knowledge and abilities will expand. She will eventually have the option to connect to kid-safe knowledge areas on the Internet and look up information your child is interested in. She'll be able to answer questions that you might not even be able to, and all your child will have to do is ask.
Chatty Addie is positioned at the forefront of the trend towards voice-enabled mobile interfaces. It's unique interface is delightfully pushing the boundaries of how users interact with their devices. Despite being extremely simple to use, there is a lot of complex technology built into the app to make this experience possible:
- Hands-free Auto-Listening: There is no tapping needed to continue conversations and users can freely speak with her, just like interacting with a real person over FaceTime (or with an advanced computer in a science fiction film). Everybody will appreciate this immersive experience, while having the added benefit of enabling the app to be used by kids with visual or touch impairments who can interact through speech.
- Speech Recognition: Addie uses the highly acclaimed best-in-class Dragon speech recognition engine by Nuance to hear what you are saying. It's core voice recognition capabilities are the same as those used by Siri, but Addie does not require Siri and therefore works perfectly on older devices.
- Artificial Intelligence: Addie's brain uses a sophisticated natural language processing engine called ChatScript. This engine was developed by one of the brightest minds in AI over a number of years. It has won top honors in the strenuous Loebner Prize competition to select the most human-like conversational software for two of the last three years.
- Speech Synthesis: Addie's voice is provided by NeoSpeech, one of the most realistic sounding voices available on the market. This voice engine also provides information to Addie about which sounds are being spoken, enabling her detailed mouth movements to be perfectly synchronized with what she is saying.