Travel companion App wins competition

Heriot-Watt's Research Associate Srinivasan Janarthanam with the prize.

SpeechCity, a voice-driven Intelligent Conversational City Companion developed by a team of researchers from the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences, is one of the winners of the Edinburgh Apps 2014 Challenge.

Travel companion app

EdinburghApps 2014 is a civic challenge organised by the City of Edinburgh Council. The competition encourages app developers to come up with innovative ways to use the council's datasets to inform Edinburgh residents and visitors.

The Heriot-Watt team presented a prototype app that can guide visitors around Edinburgh and tell them stories about commemorative trees, monuments, museum and galleries. SpeechCity won the app challenge under the Culture and Sports category.

The app offers the opportunity to provide tours to and inside museums, guiding visitors as they arrive, during their visit and after, gathering their feedback

The team at MACS received funding in form of an EPSRC Impact Acceleration Award to build the commercial prototype. The research team includes: Dr. Srini Janarthanam, Andy Taylor, Yanchao Yu, Dr. Verena Rieser and Professor Oliver Lemon.

The annual contest, now in its second year, aims to boost new local tech businesses as well as giving the council new apps to provide for residents. This year's EdinburghApps contest focused on themes surrounding culture and sport as well as health and well-being.

Five competition winners

Other four apps were also recognised at a special event held at the University of Edinburgh's School of Informatics.

The competition winners were:

  • Speech City - a voice-activated visitor information app
  • Find A Player - to help people find teams to play sport with
  • Bubbal - which uses iBeacons to deliver visitor information, enable people to share reviews, and donate to the upkeep of Edinburgh's attractions and monuments
  • Run2See - which delivers running routes for visitors to Edinburgh, along with information about what they'll find on the route
  • ACE (Addiction Companion Edinburgh) - to provide help and easy access to services for people addicted to drugs and alcohol

Heriot-Watt's Research Associate Srinivasan Janarthanam said about SpeechCity, "I travel a lot for conferences and project meetings but I try to make some time to just walk around the city.

"Most of the time I spend a lot of time doing research on what I should see, but I always thought there should be an app to integrate all these data sources into an immersive touring experience."