Forget Siri – Make Wolfram Alpha Your Personal Assistant

So you can spend a bundle on a new phone and it comes with a voice-activated digital assistant. But let’s be honest, it’s much more satisfying if you coded up this feature yourself. Here’s a guide on doing just that by combining an Asterisk server with the Wolfram Alpha API.

Asterisk is a package we are already familiar with. It’s an open source Private Branch Exchange suite that lets you build your own telephone network. Chances are, you’re not going to build one just for this project, but if you do make sure to document the process and let us know about it. With the Asterisk server in place you just need to give the assistant script an extension (in this case it’s 4747).

But then there’s the problem of translating your speech into text which can be submitted as a Wolfram query. There’s an API for that too which uses Google to do that translation. From there you can tweak abbreviations and other parameters, but all-in-all your new assistant is ready to go. Call it up and ask what to do when you have a flat tire (yeah, that commercial drives us crazy too).

[Thanks M]

20 thoughts on “Forget Siri – Make Wolfram Alpha Your Personal Assistant

  1. Read the whole thing and my code-fu isn’t up to the game…sadly enough.

    How about so code-sensei out here to take that and implement it as an app? market it at 5$ and I’ll buy it,anyone else?

    Wolframalpha is a great ressource and it can even decode a genetic sequence on the fly,how awesome is that =P

  2. Not much expertise is necessary to get this working. PBX in a Flash is a turnkey install from an ISO. It takes about an hour on virtually any PC or virtual machine. The one-click Wolfram Alpha installer adds an interface to Wolfram Alpha by dialing 4747 from any phone connected to the PBX. The install takes under a minute.

      1. Hey chief, thanks for the heads up :) I’m gonna give it a shot this evening. You should write it up and submit it. It would save some folks a lot of time and headaches if it works like it looks :) Thanks again Nerd Uno.

    1. Agreed Google Voice Serach that is built-in to android works with the official wolfram alpha app. are they talking about using astrik on a PC to use the website. If that is so why even bother talking about a ifone app. also how the heck is wolfram going to tie into my calendar or txt messages. this whole post smells of ifone h8.

  3. I seen wolframalpha on TED when I was heavy into the AI scene. More than a great tool. It’s my secondhand search engine.

    As to the article, this is a great implementation with wolframallpha. It gives me more ideas….

  4. I actually set this up. There are two methods to accomplish this. I found that the version that Lefteris came up with using a custom agi seems to work better. I was having issues where the system call in the dialplan would get held up and not complete. If you look in the PBXiaF forum there is more information on the topic. look for speech recognition and wolfram.

  5. I too went out of my way to set this up using an old box we had kicking about, and I think this is a great hack, irregardless of if there is already a apple or droid interface that does similar, honestly who cares, technically its a great hack, and a nice example of something else interesting to do with a home PBX system.

    if you have the bits knocking about, the installation of the PBXiaF deal, & the centos server it lives in, was trivial, the PBXiaF itself, seems to be a pretty solid pbx system, and ‘out the box’ so to speak, understood my accent.

    Thanks! I had a great time doing this. x

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