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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wolfram Alpha for Asterisk

Nerd Vittles - Siriously: It's Wolfram Alpha for Asterisk

Ever wished your Asterisk® server could harness the power of a 10,000 CPU Supercomputer to answer virtually any question you can dream up about the world we live in? Well, so long as it's for non-commercial use, today's your lucky day. Apple demonstrated with Siri™ just how amazing this technology can be by coupling Wolfram Alpha® to a speech-to-text engine on the iPhone 4S. And, thanks to Google's new speech transcription engine and Wolfram Alpha's API, you can do much the same thing with any Asterisk server. Today, we'll show you how.

We had such a good name for this project, Iris, which is Siri spelled backwards. You know the backwards sister and all of that. Unfortunately, the new (similar) product for Android phones was named Iris two months ago. And we didn't want to be like Larry on Newhart with two brothers named Darryl. So... we give you 4747. You can figure it out from there.

When people ask what exactly Wolfram Alpha is, our favorite answer was provided by Ed Borasky.

It's an almanac driven by a supercomputer.

That's an understatement. It's a bit like calling Google Search a topic index. Unlike Google which provides links to web sites that can provide answers to queries, Wolfram Alpha provides specific and detailed answers to almost any question. Here are a few examples (with descriptions of the functionality) to help you wrap your head around the breadth of information. For a complete list of what's available, visit Wolfram Alpha's Examples by Topic. Or try out a sample query here.

Weather in Charleston South Carolina
Weather forecast for Washington D.C.
Next solar eclipse
Otis Redding
Define politician
What planes are overhead? (flying over your current location)
Ham and cheese sandwich (nutritional information)
Holidays 2012 (summary of all holidays for 2012 with dates and DOW)
Medical University of South Carolina (history of MUSC)
Star Trek (show history, air dates, number of episodes, and more)
Apollo 11 (everything you ever wanted to know)
Cheapest Toaster (brand and price)
Battle of Gettysburg (sad day :-) )
Daylight Savings Time 2012 (date ranges and how to set your clocks)
Tablets by Motorola (pricing, models, and specs from Best Buy)
Doughnut (you don't wanna know)

Implementation Overview. Today what we're going to demonstrate is how to configure your Asterisk server so that you can pick up any phone on your system, dial 4-7-4-7, speak a question, and we'll show you how to send it to Google to convert your spoken words into text. Then we'll pass that text translation to Wolfram Alpha which will provide a plain text answer to your question. Finally, we'll take that plain text and use Flite or Cepstral to deliver the results to you.

For openers, you'll need a free Wolfram Alpha account. We'll be using PBX in a Flash™ to demonstrate the setup because its reliance on CentOS 6.2 provides the most complete collection of Linux utilities available. And, of course, you get unlimited, free calling within the U.S. and Canada with Google Voice as part of any PBX in a Flash install. It's certainly possible to do what we're demonstrating on other Asterisk server platforms once you get all of the dependencies resolved. But we'll leave that for the pioneers.

Using PIAF2™, you'll need to download a new AGI script to take advantage of Google's speech transcription engine. No registration is (yet) required. Then we'll provide a simple piece of dialplan code to handle the phone conversation. Finally, we'll provide a couple of AGI scripts to tame the Wolfram Alpha interface for you. Plug in your Wolfram Alpha APP-ID, and you'll be off to the races. It's about a 15-minute project using an existing PIAF2 server. So let's get started.


Interesting Setup. I've been using Google Voice, since it first came out. And I like it allot. I mostly just use my Google number to call my buddy back, when he leaves me a Google Voice Mail. He's long distance for me on my home phone and I don't even have a Mobile Phone. But, I always thought... There must be something more that I could do with this. And I've been wanting to setup an Asterisk System for several years now... Hmmm;)


Wolfram Alpha for Asterisk
Forget Siri – make Wolfram Alpha your personal assistant - Hack a Day
Nerd Vittles » Siriously: It's Wolfram Alpha for Asterisk
Wolfram|Alpha Products - Page Not Found
Free home phone method uses parts we're familiar with - Hack a Day
Speech recognition for Asterisk PBX
$100 in russian money - Wolfram|Alpha
Wolfram|Alpha: Examples by Topic

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