Speech to Test with Unity and Watson
After watching the Sprint Planning Meeting video and then reading through the Task Board article, I logged onto my Trello board, looked at through my ‘Explore Ideas’ and identified my next sprint goal – Speech and IBM Watson Unity SDK. The goal is exploring the idea of how player and AI character speech can create a stronger sense of immersion within a VR space.
MI started with a user story centered on a person wants to interact within VR using speech, similar to Alexa or Google Assistant but a bit more robust . User W: “I want to talk with the characters I meet in the virtual world.”
The first step is to setup a Unity scene and get IBM Watson to recognize speech to text and display the text to UI text field. The ultimate goal is triggering in-game logic with a virtual character that could respond to users’ verbal actions. This could lead to a language learning environment where students could learn a vocabulary simply by interacting with an AI character.
Having moved the Trello card to the started board, I set up a free IBM Cloud account to access Watson. I have planned to spend 8 hours within a two week period, on the initial setup. Speech recognition is one of the core features of the app and will give me basic structure to build on. The success of the sprint hinges on communicating with the speech to text server, and it able recognize verbal input through Unity.
I will know I have achieved my sprint goal when the Watson servers are able to transcribe the speech as text and display the output in text field within Unity. The goal is realistic because of the small steps approach I have used in the past. I set have planned to spend 2 two hour blocks during the week and a four hour block of time on the weekend. I will update my Trello board and I am using Unity Collaborate as my version tracking system. Keeping to my time schedule, updating my Trello board and staying focused on simply communicating with Watson, will allow me to successfully complete my sprint goal.
After looking at the list of challenges I the decided on,
and followed Geoff’s advice to ” Let yourself off the leash!”. I’ve been thinking a lot about “Presence” (spatial immersion for the technically minded) and the users POV, so this activity sounded really interesting. I put the timer on and got started. After twenty minutes I had a paper full of ideas that started off safe but moved into the “what if” realm of thought.
A few of the interesting ones where:
Spending a few minutes looking back on them, it would be really fun to be able to breath life into these ideas. I liked the idea of being able to sort through your dreams or of even creating a dream scrapbook you could share with people. One or two my be possible in a very limited way but overall it was fun to think about and gave me an idea or two play with. The challenge now would be to come up with a business plans to pitch on of these ideas and research needed to support it.
Having said that, I have started researching the idea of a VR language learning app in which users could converse with an AI character. Having an AI character like Miquela Sousa that students could learn with would be really intriguing experience. So, I started exploring just what speech capable AI’s are available and are able to integrate into the Unity platform. Microsoft has Azure client and Amazon has Sumerian but that service may only run on AWS servers. There IBM Watson and SmartBody by the University of California. At the moment, IBM Watson looks to be the most promising because of their recent partnership, bringing Watson’s AI functionality to Unity’s gaming engine, with built-in VR/AR features. I have added this to my Trello board for now and will continue to follow it.