Note: This blog post is 2 weeks late.
We (as usual, I was with Mark Steve) joined this event called Textify and we were given a month or so to think of an SMS-based project and build it. It was hosted by Chikka with the help of Smart DevNet to promote the use of the recently launched Chikka SMS API platform. At first I didn’t want to join because I was running out of ideas for apps that use SMS. Fortunately (hashtag blessed!), we came up with the idea of “Siri for SMS” and we called it Ernie.
Initially, we were thinking of covering only traffic situations and directions but we decided to go bigger than that.
Meet Ernie (our entry)
It’s obvious from the logo itself that we’re trying to pay homage to Ernie Baron. Why? Well, mainly because of the purpose of our app which is to give information. Ernie (the app) gives relevant internet information via SMS. Yes! Via SMS. Why? (again)
Quick stats! 82% of are still feature phone (non-smartphone) users.
Filipinos are still fond of using SMS. Bummer.
So, How Can You Use This Ernie Thingy?
Easy as pie! You just have to text a question to our access code and Ernie will give you the answer. You can try it out online here.
In a nutshell, these are the types of questions that you can ask Ernie:
- How’s the weather in Baguio?
- Is it traffic in Buendia?
- How do you get from Makati to Marikina?
- How high is Taipei 101?
- What is the meaning of life?
We’re planning to add more like yellow pages and movie schedules if we find time. (Work sched is hectic!)
How Did We Build Ernie?
I’m not going to talk about the codes here but the diagram below summarizes everything.
Steve created the Chikka SMS API receiver/sender and the NLP interpreter app using WIT.ai in Python and I built the API for all the APIs that we’re using in Ruby. (APIception!)
Spoiler: We lost.
In every hackathon, my goal is to learn something new by being forced to create something (haha). Here are some of the things that I learned and/or improved on:
- ++ Ruby and Sinatra
- Wit.ai (new)
- Mechanize (new)
- ++ for pitching with prepared slides (I used to hate this!)
Anyway, here’s our meme-filled presentation during the event:
Kung walang (k)naleyds, walang power. 😛