Educards Voice Control

This article explains the Educards Voice Control in detail.


Motivation

Sitting is the new smoking. It hurts your heart and causes you back pain. And yet our society keeps on generating new incentives for sitting ever more.


And it is not only your body that pays the toll. Long sitting sessions have negative impact on your brain, your memory — your mind in general.


In contrary, walking (or a similar activity) does the exact opposite¹. Your cognitive performance increases. Anxiety and tension is reduced. Your creativity is boosted, and your working memory improves. No wonder that many successful people used to walk as a part of their creative process (Steve Jobs, Jack Dorsey, Jeff Weiner)¹.



You can learn and run

That’s why we designed Educards to be used by your voice. We encoded the voice control into its DNA!


We believe that to make the most out of your learning sessions you should not just sit at your computer. Just think of all those precious moments when your brain is active and focused: walking, running, gardening, driving your car. Why not to take advantage of these moments and really learn something?


How it works

Even the most advanced voice assistants may misunderstand some commands. And no, we don't own the next sci-fi technology to fix this. We understand the limits of voice recognition and with this in mind we carefully designed the whole Voice User Interface (VUI). Educards Voice Control is not a Swiss knife. It's not a chatbot, it can’t handle your agenda or send a message. But instead, it is build precisely to handle your learning session. And that’s it. That’s our main focus.


So how exactly does it work? Let’s say you are reading a French article and you don’t understand what the word “aime” means in the sentence “Je t’aime”. By highlighting this word with a single tap you mark it as to learn. When you later go for a walk, Educards will ask you questions based on your previous input. It will pick a word based on a way you learn and forget. For example, it could ask you:

Educards: Je t’aime. (pause) Educards: Do you know what aime means in this sentence?

Now it’s your turn. You could respond:

You: Yeah, I know this one. / Sure, I understand. / etc. Educards: (swipes the flashcard right)

Educards never judges you

Educards expects the answer in the form of a statement (or a command). Such statement will be understood only if it represents an action which you would normally do on a touchscreen (swipe left, swipe right, press the translate button, press the definitions button, etc.).

You may express these statements in a natural language:

You: “What does it mean?” Educards: (presses the translate button) You: “I already knew that.” Educards: (swipes the flashcard right) You: “How would you describe it?” Educards: (presses the definitions button)

To use Educards Voice Control with ease keep only one thing in mind: How would you interact with the touchscreen?

If you would answer “t’aime means to love you” (not a statement nor command) Educards would not understand. Because by design it just doesn’t try to judge if the pronunciation of “j’aime” was right or if “to love you” is really the right answer (“I like” could be another one).

Educards counts on your judgement. It's you who knows whether you have any trouble with the subject or the topic. And you can ask questions to better understand it anytime (“Could you explain?”, “Conjugate in past tense!”, “How to use it in another sentence?”) but at the end it’s always you who judges yourself (“I knew that” / “I didn’t know”). Educards never does.

Switch between voice and screen

Both the Graphical User Interface (GUI) and the Voice User Interface (VUI) were carefully designed to cooperate. Whenever your situation changes and you simply cannot speak anymore you may switch from voice to touchscreen and seamlessly continue your learning session.

Learn by exploring

Another feature of Educards is what we call exploring. You may ask questions to better understand a phrase or a word:

You: What’s the infinitive form of this verb? Educards: aimer You: Yeah, I knew that. You: Can you conjugate it in present tense? Educards: j’aime, tu aimes, il/elle aime, … You: OK, I know it. You: Tell me a synonym! Educards: adorer You: OK thanks. Next!/Continue! Educards: (Slides to the next Educard — word/phrase.)

You may take your time and explore the word until you are confident in it. If you get lost you may ask for the context. And when you feel you should move on, you will be served another Educard with respect to your knowledge:

You: Could you repeat the sentence? I forgot what we were talking about. Educards: Je t’aime. You: And what was the word? Educards: aime You: Right, could you conjugate it in past tense? Educards: j’aimais, tu aimais, il/elle aimait, … You: OK, I didn’t know this. (swipe left) You: Next! (I’m done with this one, continue to the next Educard.) Educards: (Slides to the next Educard.)


Pros

  • The design of Educards Voice Control greatly reduces the risk of misunderstanding your intention. Thus making the whole learning session more pleasant. Or in other words: if you ask for a definition of a word you won’t end up calling your mother.

  • Voice control makes your imagination work at high speed. It has a positive effect on your memory, as you have to build the whole image of the subject in your mind. You cannot cheat unconsciously by looking at written words and phrases.

  • You always learn in context. Each Educard represents one very specific object like a verb, a noun, a phrase. And it is always accompanied with the original context in which you created it at the first place. You can ask for that context anytime: “What was the sentence? / What’s the context? What are we talking about?”.

  • You can explore the word you are learning. We designed Educards in a way in which you first explore the word and after you feel comfortable with it, you move forward to the next one: - definition (“Define please.”) - example usage (“Can you give me an example?”) - more examples (“Give me another example please.”) - verb conjugation (“Conjugate in present/past/future!”) - etc. - swipe to next Educard (“Next!”, “Continue!”).

Cons

  • You can’t ask for things beyond the current Educard. As mentioned, you can explore the Educard by voice, but you cannot switch to another subject. At least, this feature is not supported yet. When you are learning what “aime” means in the sentence “Je t’aime” you can’t just switch to the word “Je” by asking “And what does the word Je mean?”. You may only navigate forward or backward between the Educards - words and phrases you highlighted while reviewing the article (“Next Educard! / Continue!” / “Previous Educard!” / etc.). However, to overcome this disadvantage, the next Educard is picked up based on your knowledge - you will be served the Educards you are struggling with.

  • Longer learning curve of how to use Educards Voice Control. People tend to ask questions beyond the scope of current Educard (“And what does the word Je mean?”). This is really an inconvenience at the beginning. But it was our design decision for sake of minimizing speech recognition mistakes. Another option would be to design the whole voice user interface as a chatbot. However, we don't believe chatbots are ready for this task yet.

Of course, our aim is to continuously get rid of all of these limitations. We’re sure, that with your support we will be sooner or later be able to do so.

Further reading

 
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