Cross-Examination: The EVE-Developer

It’s not easy to find a good developer. We talked to many people and firms about EVE, but in the end, Twitter lead us to the right guy. A retweeted video showed Robin Manuel Thiel exchanging a high five with his self-made robot. We contacted him and realized quickly that we might not only have found the right developer for the job, but that he also enjoys supporting meaningful, social projects. After the first meeting we just knew, that wie had found the perfect match. Okay, to tell the truth, we gave fate a helping hand, by setting up pizza traps in our meeting room. They say, it easier to catch them with pizza. Since then, Robin has gotten two more developers on board. Without them EVE would still be nothing more than a great idea. Reason enough to ask Robin some questions.

 

Tells us about yourself in a short Elevator Pitch. 3 – 2 – 1 go:

Cloud Architect by day, developer by night. Creating something that has a long-lasting effect and changes the lives of many people, motivates me to continue what I do. I fall in love too fast with everything that has a plug or is controlled with an app. No, I won’t repair your printer!

Do developers really sit in a dark basement all the time?

That’s baloney! All I need for my work is a notebook, so EVE was created in many different locations: At home, on trains, in hotel rooms and while on a plane. I love to code outside, but EVE was born in winter, so it was too cold for that.

Why did you decide take part in EVE’s creation?

Ever since I started coding, I took part in social projects. I think these are often eye opening, especially if you mostly work in the enterprise field. Also, the technology behind this project is exciting. Plus, coding regularly helps me to stay on top of the game.

What was your first thought when you heard about EVE?

Great idea! Why doesn’t something like that already exist?

How difficult is it, to translate an idea like this into source code?

That really depends on the circumstances. It’s like asking if it is difficult, to build a house. Some parts are simple and can be done quickly. On the one hand, because you already did it a hundred times, or you can use pre-existing, programmed modules found online. On the other hand, there are components, that will cause sleepless nights.

Were there any particular difficulties?

We are using very new and young technologies, especially in EVE’s machine learning. Some of these were poorly documented or faulty. At least we could patch some of these chinks. If someone wants to build something similar, they’ll have an easier time, thanks to us. You could say, we’re doing pioneer work!

Is there something that was really easy?

There was a bug, where EVE lost her connection after recording for over 10 Minutes. It can get super annoying, to recreate an error like this, because you must talk to her the whole time. So, we just started to play her audio books. This saved us a lot of work.

How does EVE’s AI work?

Imagine it like this: Every sound we recorded with our microphone is getting thrown into a big cauldron. We stir it, until we cook something up that resembles something we’ve seen before and can identify. Technically speaking, we match the waveform of the audio files with hundred-thousands of entries from our database. The result, that’s closest to the broth in our figurative cauldron, is put out by EVE as text. If the user uploads their own dictionary, we will add it as seasoning. Often this creates several possible sentences and our service will choose the most likely. Manual corrections will have a role in the future, too. So, lots of black magic!

What does EVE have in store for us in the future?

HoloLens and Smart Glasses generally are good keywords. How cool would it be, if you could project subtitles on your lenses directly? In the intermediate future, desktop apps, which will make it easier for speakers to transfer subtitles to beamers, will probably be the next step. And Eve will do live translations, soon.

Which software needs to be invented?

A software that reads brain waves and digitizes them! Then we could code EVE, without typing or sitting at a computer.

What’s your favorite song to code to?

When I’m coding no one is allowed to speak, so I listen to movie film scores. The one I listen to most is Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack of “Inception”, at least that’s what Spotify tells me.

Do you want to greet your Mum?

Hi Mum! Look, I’m on the Internet. You haven’t accidentally deleted it!

Does EVE have any hidden Easter Eggs?

Tell her „EVE initiate self-destruction”. Then run!

Editor’s note: This interview was done under the influence of pizza.