Our team developed skills for "Marusia" voice assistant
We had a chat with the project manager and architect and found out, which skills will be presented the following week and a host of other things.
About the cooperation with Mail.ru Group:
I have a long history with Mail.ru Group – it`s not my first year of different events and hackathons, hosted by the company. Moreover, I`m interested in technological products of this IT-giant. Last year I was extremely lucky together with Marina Danshina, the IT-technology faculty Vice-Dean, to complete an educational program, held by Mail.ru Group, and to become an ambassador of the company in Moscow Poly. That was the moment when I got the idea to unite students in a team that will create different services on the base of Mail.ru Group technologies and generate ideas on improving the existing ecosystem products in the terms of Project Training. The important thing about our project is the fact that apart from programmers it can involve students of all specialties, related to digital technologies.
We assembled our team in the beginning of October and started thinking about the most entertaining technologies for us. Eventually we chose the skill development for the voice assistant “Marusia” as an advanced and entertaining task. In the beginning of January, after implementing our ideas and publishing the developed skills, I decided to contact “Marusia” and tell them about our initiative. After that a manager from “Marusia” contacted me and we discussed the cooperation between the faculty and the service team.
About skills development for “Marusia” and the upcoming presentation:
The voice assistant “Marusia” was developed quite recently, and its skill base is limited. It`s necessary to broaden it in order to make her a bit friendlier and more competitive in the comparison with other voice assistants. Our first skill was “Gymnastics for your eyes”. We got the idea from the research of British scientists about the gadget addiction. As a part of the study the scientist stated that a person spends 32 years of lifetime, glued to the screens of different gadgets. Of course, no one will give up using them even given all the risks for eyes. Fortunately, you can take measures to lower these risks and solve the problems of eye dryness, tiredness and other unpleasant feelings. The easiest and most effective way to get rid of tiredness and strengthen eye muscles is to make gymnastics for eyes. However, in order to study necessary exercises, you have to watch the screen, and we`re trying to lower the negative impact here. That is the exact moment when a voice assistant kicks in.
As you understand, our team hasn`t stopped there – during the modernization process of the first skill we decided to create some more – “recreational gymnastics” (known by publication on the official group on Vkontakte) and “Diction exercises”. The news about eye gymnastics will be published next week, the diction skill is still developed.
About project work, student team of developers and difficulties:
As this autumn semester Project Training started a bit later, the planning and development took about 2 months. The head of the development became Dmitrii Tkachenko (191-362 study group).
In order to implement technical part of the skills we chose the Go programming language (or golang) – a newborn and unknown language for Dmitrii, who didn`t give up and did his best to create a useful option that would be used by thousands of users. However, a week ago the company mentioned Aimylogic service from Just AI. So you don`t need to be a programmer to teach “Marusia”: skills can be made with a special constructor. Undoubtedly, this fact will boost the realization process and simplify it!
Any created skill must undergo a moderation process, after which the development group of Mail.ru Group makes a decision, whether to publish the skill or send it for further development. It was really important that if the skill was rejected, the team sent us a detailed feedback in order to help us fix all the bugs and resend the skill for another moderation process.
When I showed our colleagues-ambassadors from Mail.ru Group the first skill, they send a lot of interesting proposals on its further development, for example, creating a parallel timer during the exercises or adding images for exercises visualization. This very moment Ksenia Malinovskaya (181-321 study group) saved us and created different illustrations for “Marusia” skills. The result was astonishing! However, we faced some difficulties during program realization of this project. The thing is that “Marusia” supports only 15 images (if the text is united with a picture) in one skill and the timer option is not provided at all. Nevertheless, after Christmas holidays the image limit was upgraded and all skill exercises have their images. We even made a smart decision concerning the timer option – when you start an exercise wallpaper music starts playing and stops in the end of the exercise. It`s quite creative, isn`t it?
The most challenging difficulty was the skill publication in the public domain. Even after the company approved the skill, it was not available in the comprehensive skill list. We had to address the technical support and they helped us to solve the problem. We are really happy that a lot of people learned about our skill after the publication and started to use it in everyday life. In my opinion, any developer will be happy to know that his creation is useful for millions of people. Of course, we will sharpen our skills, introducing new possibilities. As “Marusia” team is open for any suggestions, we asked to create possibilities to embed different animations and short videos in the voice assistant answers and to show reminders on user gadgets.
About further goals and plans:
We plan to develop the cooperation between our faculty and the “Marusia” team and also to tell our students about its possibilities and new features.
The “Marusia” team volunteered to help us in the skill development, give consultation on our questions and listen to our suggestions in order to make the service more comfortable both for developers and users. In February “Marusia” will publish an article on “Habr”, where it will elaborate on the achievements of our faculty team of Moscow Poly. We`re waiting for this!
We would also like to try ourselves in new app development on the basis of Mail.ru Group other technologies – VK Mini Apps, Vision, ICQ New and others. We hope to cooperate with other business-units of the ecosystem. That`s why we`re waiting for everyone who wants to participate in our projects in the terms of project training next semester!