At first, I wanted to build everything from scratch myself. But then I realized it was a complete waste of time. There are people who worked hard to develop tools to make it easier for us to develop things quickly, so why reinvent the wheel?
I didn’t really know where to start, but I knew I wanted Gaia to be a chatbot. Something you can have a conversation with. But when I searched for chatbot frameworks, I mostly found tools to implement chatbots that can read and write back. It can be useful for games or apps, but since my project’s main target is the elderly, I needed something that you could talk to and that will talk back. So I searched for NLP (Natural Language Processing) tools, and I decided to use Dialogflow (formerly api.ai, acquired by Google in 2016). It is a free API designed to “build natural and rich conversational experiences”.
Although I planned on using Unity to build the interface, I eventually chose to build an app using Ionic, a JS framework allowing to develop hybrid apps. The main reason behind that choice is that Unity is more useful when you want to develop a game, while here I just need basic yet efficient UI which is not so simply done using Unity. Plus, the AI will most likely run on a smartphone or tablet so an app seems a better option – not that it’s not possible to build an app with Unity, but to create an app with a simple interface, using Unity is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
I have a little experience with Ionic as I followed a course/tutorial on Udemy and since it works with languages I already know (JS, HTML, CSS), I’m confident I won’t have trouble developing the app itself. The tricky part is going to be learning how to use Dialogflow. I signed up for a free course on Udemy and hopefully this will allow me to understand how it works quickly so I can develop a prototype as soon as possible.
I hope I made the right choices and won’t have to start all over at some point, and I will keep you posted on how it goes.
A girl in tech.