MIT’s Friendly Robotic Weatherman

WeatherI know my buddy Hrafn over at Inkblot Earth is going to get a kick out of this (he’s an AI expert)… I just got finished getting the local weather update from MIT’s artificial intelligence weather forecaster, Jupiter.

All you do is give Jupiter a call on your phone and ask him for the forecast. He reads it off to you, and you’re on your merry way. Especially useful if you’re traveling somewhere and don’t want to have to find an Internet connection to look it up on the Web. I even made a recording so everyone could listen to a sample…

Jupiter Weather Forecast

I recommend programming Jupiter into your cell phone so you can give him a call on the road. The number is 617-258-0300 (or 888-573-8255).

Here are the basic instructions:

  • When you call, you will be connected with Jupiter (the connection will take about 5 sec.), and the system will greet you with something like “Welcome to Jupiter – the automated weather service from MIT. How may I help you?”
  • At this point, you will hear a brief high pitch beep, indicating that the computer is listening. You can now ask your question, e.g., what’s the forecast in Boston, will it rain tomorrow, when will the sun rise, etc.
  • When you are done asking the question, you will hear a brief low pitch beep, indicating that the machine has detected an endpoint. It will entertain you with music and then respond (hopefully with the right answer!). If it doesn’t do well, you may want to change your speaking rate a bit, or try not to trail off at the end of a sentence. You might also want to simplify your query, if you are having trouble with longer queries. The system does not do as well if you are in a noisy environment or if you use cell phones.
  • When Jupiter is done, it will say “can I help you with something else” and go to step 2 again. When you are done, simply hang up.
  • If Jupiter doesn’t answer the phone, it’s because someone else is using it. Wait a couple of minutes and try again. Also, remember that you are being recorded. We are using your voice and queries to improve the system!
  • Please keep in mind that this is not a product, it is a research prototype. We are putting it out there primarily for the purpose of data collection. But it tends to do okay on reasonable queries.

Have fun!

PS – For those of you that listened to the recording… it’s April 4th – in Dallas! – and Jupiter predicted afternoon snow flurries! That is freaking cold for Dallas…

Article Written by
John P.

John P. is CEO of Livid Lobster and co-host of Geek Beat TV. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Comments

  1. Peter says:

    Thought you might be interested in this:

    http://news.com.com/2100-1039_3-6173839.html

    Technology that converts voice to text.

    SpinVox, one of the companies offering the sevice, has some test numbers you can try out, they are:

    English : +44 1212 808081

    French : +33 1 76 66 05 01

    Spanish : +34 938 02 12 21

    German : +49 5112 60982191

    It’s pretty fun, I tried a few in English….. it gets the numbers and common words right, but don’t try reading it literature.

    I wrote a little something about it here:
    http://www.marinelayer.com/#00000011.txt
    (my blog’s still in beta test stage, so it’s a little rough)

  2. hthth says:

    Yeah. The research emphasis is probably not on synthesis, and it shouldn’t, really. The main reason that synthesizers still sound so bad is because the backend intelligence driving them isn’t advanced enough.

  3. The Man says:

    Yes. That was a little surprising to me. But the interesting thing is that I did some experimentation and the variety of commands it will accept is actually impressive.

    John

  4. hthth says:

    Hah, that’s great.
    I’ve always wanted to put up an agent like that on my workstation at home. There are so many open source projects that anyone can use to do similar stuff at home.

    I’m a bit dissapointed in the quality of their speech synthesizer though, it sounds like the synthesizers I tried there around 1994!

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