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Computer science collaboration with journalists creates showcase-winning public radio app

Team members from SoundStir present their app at the 2015 RJI Tech Showcase. Team members include, from left to right, Son Nguyen, Rachel Koehn, Kristofferson Culmer and Alix Carruth.

Team members from SoundStir present their app at the 2015 RJI Tech Showcase. Team members include, from left to right, Son Nguyen, Rachel Koehn, Kristofferson Culmer and Alix Carruth. Not pictured is Manav Singhal, who was away at an internship in California, and participated in the presentation during the app’s presentation.

Four student teams comprised of engineering and journalism students presented their final projects for the 2015 RJI Tech Showcase Student Competition held April 22. The projects, which began last semester, were aimed at bringing users closer to the information available on the Public Media Platform (PMP), a consortium of digital content from the country’s leading public media organizations, while also improving PMP’s database through users.

Computer science graduate students Kristofferson Culmer, Manav Singhal and Son Nguyen joined School of Journalism students Alix Carruth and Rachel Koehn to develop the winning app SoundStir.

SoundStir is a mobile community for public radio listeners that allows a user to connect with other users listening to the same content. The aim of this project is to extend the discussion of public media. Users may listen to a public radio show or podcast through the app and will also see other users listening to the same show or podcast. A user can then talk with another co-listener through the app or share the content on social media.

Because competition sponsors felt not just one project was worth recognition, they also awarded a prize for technical innovation to the project, Turnip.

Abhi Shah explains how Turnip's technology works at the 2015 RJI Tech Showcase. Team Turnip includes, from left to right, Olga Dorovskykh, Shah, Mike Phinney, Tatiana Darie (behind Phinney) and Sean Lander (not pictured).

Abhi Shah explains how Turnip’s technology works at the 2015 RJI Tech Showcase. Team Turnip includes, from left to right, Olga Dorovskykh, Shah, Mike Phinney, Tatiana Darie (behind Phinney) and Sean Lander (not pictured).

Turnip combines social media and newsgathering in one place. The automated app pulls real-time news and other information from social media, but also analyzes and filters what a user is looking for. It also can present a user with articles based off Twitter trending topics, as opposed to Tweets from that trending topic.

Computer science graduate students Mike Phinney and Abhi Shah, informatics doctoral student Sean Lander and journalism students Tatiana Darie and Olga Dorovskykh developed the app.

The other two projects were:

  • Delve, a desktop application that helps users explore the PMP through keywords and organized display. Delve was developed by computer science master’s student Tatiana Alexenko and senior Thomas Weidmaier with journalism students Natasha Brewer and Kara Tabor.
  • Story Grove is an app that creates “trees” of custom-tailored news content and works off of keywords and community driven content. Story Grove was developed by CS master’s student Lingxue Wu, information technology senior Emmanuel Pottipadu and journalism students Brittany Crocker, Bao Deng and Jen Prohov.

SoundStir and Turnip developers will travel to Washington D.C. with PMP to demonstrate their technologies to public media executives. All participants received an Apple Watch or Android equivalent.

The competition wrapped with the announcement of the 2016 RJI Tech Showcase Student Competition’s overall theme, which will be related to wearable technology.

Read the story from RJI’s perspective here.