TAPIR Player, an Audio Player for Studying Languages

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davidzweig
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TAPIR Player, an Audio Player for Studying Languages

Postby davidzweig » Thu Jul 19, 2018 9:24 pm

I have something you guys might find interesting, and I would appreciate your thoughts:

I designed an audio player that aims to make studying languages on your own more effective and enjoyable. It's probably a bit different from anything you've seen before, the easiest way to appreciate what it does is to see it in use:



(excuse the poor audio..)

It allows you to listen to recorded materials (ie an audiobook) in a language you are studying, sentence by sentence. You can consume and digest the spoken language at your own pace. A translation of every sentence is available, if needed. After hearing the translation, you can often deduce something new in the original target language recording; maybe there was an unfamiliar construction or a word you didn't know. Working like this you can assimilate a great deal in a relatively short amount of time.

Here's a diagram showing the important functions of the buttons:

Image

Here's how you navigate between different materials:



The player can be used with printed materials. This version of The Little Prince has a special layout to make it convenient to use with the player.



The player is also useful for working with audio drills, like the FSI courses. You can go through the drills a lot quicker and use the materials in new ways when you can quickly move between prompts. I added a translation 'track', that can be useful when you forgot a vocabulary item and you don't have the book at hand:



The interface has been made such that it can be used 'blind'. You don't need to look at the player at all to use any of the functions. You can use it while walking in the park, or driving. It's useful if you want to study without spending more time in front of screen.

I wanted to make it possible for anyone to turn any recorded material in the target language (audiobooks, videos, podcasts etc.) into study material. I talked a bit about this software in a previous thread. (see https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... php?t=7169). It's especially interesting if you learning a less-commonly-studied language, as often these languages have few study materials available. The FSI and Little Prince examples in the video were created with about 100 lines of python code, and a little manual cleanup work. The materials have a simple file-based structure, and can be easily shared. To load materials onto the player, you connect it with a usb cable, and you can drag files across, like a flash drive. This also charges the internal battery.

Other features: you can star interesting sentences to review later. It also makes a handy music player, with an FM radio. I have a few more ideas that would allow you to create more interactive materials too.



(Sounds like the audio is clipping in radio mode, I should adjust the firmware..)

This project is something I made based on my own needs. I have a technical background and did all the design work (electrical, mechanical, firmware), it took about a year. There's still a few rough edges to work out in the software, but the hardware I am willing to call 'done.' I don't have any plans from here, as such. I was thinking of selling them for $20 USD, but I'd need to a run of a thousand or so.

Anyway, I'd appreciate your thoughts, whether it's something you think you'd enjoy using. I've been working on it too long to really have an opinion about it anymore.

If you'd like me to message you when/if the player is available, you can add your email here: https://goo.gl/forms/S09XTDQANVTvB9M83
Or like this facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/swpress/

Here are some of the older prototypes:

Last edited by davidzweig on Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Lawyer&Mom
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Re: TAPIR Player, an Audio Player for Studying Languages

Postby Lawyer&Mom » Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:00 pm

Why the separate device and not just an app for my phone?
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Arnaud
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Re: TAPIR Player, an Audio Player for Studying Languages

Postby Arnaud » Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:42 pm

Lawyer&Mom wrote:Why the separate device and not just an app for my phone?

Probably because you can use it blindly while walking with the device in your hand or your pocket. That's what I do constantly with my MP3 player. I still use a dedicated device because I don't have to watch the screen.
I find the idea really interesting.
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davidzweig
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Re: TAPIR Player, an Audio Player for Studying Languages

Postby davidzweig » Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:56 pm

It's a good question. Actually I was working on an app before, and I expect I'll continue to work on it again soon. I can see three reasons for this little devices' 'right to exist':

> The touchscreen on a smartphone really demands that you look at it to operate it. I always liked to walk outside when I could, when I studying with my cassette player/mp3 player. With tactile buttons, you don't need to look at the device at all. I find it liberating. I write software, and by the end of the day, I've had enough of looking at a screen.

> A smartphone can be a kind of ultimate distraction device, with notifications etc. It's nice to be able to 'unplug' when you study.

> For me, there was something appealing about solving the problem using the minimum amount of technology and complexity. This little device has 10,000 times less RAM than your smartphone, costs perhaps 20 times less, and hopefully should still be working when your smartphone has long been sitting in a landfill. Although, then you'll have a new one, so that point is kind of moot I guess.
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Re: TAPIR Player, an Audio Player for Studying Languages

Postby Stefan » Thu Jul 19, 2018 11:10 pm

First reaction? Cool! Subscribed.

I'm not sure how useful it would be for me though considering that I prefer to see the text in front of me when listening and then I might as well use the smartphone / computer if it's digital. On the other hand, I could lie in bed with my headphones and see the text on my TV. Lazy learning?

I can see a use for it with Assimil. One of the main reason for me to add all the lines into Anki was to be able to use the repeat button after every single sentence. Having the book in front of you, repeating lines and moving back and forward would be really useful.

The image above says "star current card". Does it mean that it works together with Anki and would be able to rate cards as well?
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Re: TAPIR Player, an Audio Player for Studying Languages

Postby Ani » Thu Jul 19, 2018 11:34 pm

Í thin this is really interesting. I think if it were a fairly low price of be very interested. The only thing that makes me nervous is how difficult it would be to format materials. "100 lines of python code" is not reassuring :)
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Re: TAPIR Player, an Audio Player for Studying Languages

Postby Kraut » Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:06 am

I have been working with an old Sony Minidisc player for some time.
Here is the remote:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Sony-RM-D15M-M ... 3510437178
It can create up to 250 chunks of any length on a minidisc very easily: just press a button while transferring your material and you get a new chunk of the desired length. You have a forward, backward, repeat endlessly button and can select any of the numbered chunks with the remote. I can overwrite this structure and create and A-B repeat structure which can be removed again.
I think function-wise this comes close to your gadget. I can run it in the dark. I have the player linked to loudspeakers that deliver exccellent human voice quality. I don't have an additional optional track for the translation. If I want translation I have to read the original sentences plus translation myself and record this.
These Sonys come at about 50 Euro second-hand, but the whole arrangement is very bulky and your device is definitely something language learners like myself have been looking for.
Last edited by Kraut on Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TAPIR Player, an Audio Player for Studying Languages

Postby kulaputra » Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:20 am

Ani wrote:Í thin this is really interesting. I think if it were a fairly low price of be very interested. The only thing that makes me nervous is how difficult it would be to format materials. "100 lines of python code" is not reassuring :)


100 lines of python code is considered a pittance (usually) and I for one would be happy to help people format materials. Probably there are other programmers on this forum who would be happy to help too.

I think the idea is very cool. It would be nice if there were also a smartphone app, for those who prefer that. OP, would you consider making this open source? Can I assume you will be providing a documented API?
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Re: TAPIR Player, an Audio Player for Studying Languages

Postby Arnaud » Fri Jul 20, 2018 5:10 am

Like Ani, the most frightening part for me would be the Python part... I know a few command lines for Linux and basic html, that's all. The best would be to have a program with a little GUI for ignorant people like me.
Can you disable the lights of the buttons ? (not very useful to me except to see if the device is off or on).
Does it have auto-power off after x minutes of pause/no use ?
What is the power of the battery and how many hours do you think you can use the device before recharching ?
What audio formats does it accept ? MP3 only or something else like .ogg is possible ?
Thanks.
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Re: TAPIR Player, an Audio Player for Studying Languages

Postby zenmonkey » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:06 am

Interesting concept, I've like your FB page to see where you go with this. Congrats on the perseverance of seeing this through.

I like the FSI drills concept. I sometimes chunk recordings into sentences or drills and use the headphone buttons to forward/backwards from my phone. I can see how it might be useful. But I too am wary of the prep work to get the L1/L2 aligned audio in place. I've stopped using sub2srs because of that.

I think a lot of people will be challenged by the many button design.
Best of luck. I'm looking forward to seeing how you evolve this.
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