If you’re a heavy WhatsApp user, you know how hard it is to keep up with incoming messages – especially if you step away from your phone and group conversations for a few hours. A new assistant called WACAO (aka, Whatsapp Chat Assistant) aims to help by summarizing what you missed while you were gone. The assistant can also translate messages between different languages and automate your happy birthday greetings to friends, among other things.
WACAO was demonstrated today at the Disrupt Berlin 2017 Hackathon by Vivek Bombatkar and Sidharth Ramachandran, who met while working together at marketing analytics provider SuperCrunch.
Explains Sidarth, the idea for WACAO came about because it was something he needed for himself.
“I’m a part of a lot of groups,” he says. “I recently joined Slack, and it’s just insane. If I step out for a meeting, there’s two hundred messages when I return.”
That same problem also exists in WhatsApp, thanks to numerous group chats with co-workers, friends, and family groups, he says.
The WACAO chat assistant takes advantage of the web version of Whatsapp to read your messages and view your conversations. The package, meanwhile, is based on the Github repo WebWhatsAPI, and provides a python interface for interacting with WhatsApp on the web.
After getting WACAO set up – something its developers want to make easier in the future by way of a Chrome extension – you then create a WhatsApp group with just yourself and name it “WACAO.”
From that group, you can ask WACAO for help with summaries, translation, and other activities.
For example, if you want a summary of your family’s group chat, you would type “summarize” followed by the group’s name in the WACAO chat. The client then returns a brief summary of everything that’s been discussed since you last checked in.
Sidharth says the summarization technology used is a lot like those that summarize news articles, except it’s been designed specifically for chats. The assistant uses NLP (natural language processing) technologies to understand what’s being said, and looks for specific topics being discussed – including those that have the most replies – in order to determine what to summarize for you.
It then returns a summary of the conversations you missed in the WACAO group chat.
In addition, WACAO offers a handful of other features the team was able to build during the day they hacked on the project at the Disrupt Berlin 2017 hackathon.
One feature, for example, leverages the Google Translate API to help you more easily chat with people who speak another language.
To use this, you’d just type “translate to” followed by the language, the text you want to translate, and the person to send the message to – the latter by typing “and send to [person’s name.]”
The recipient will then receive your message in the language they speak and can reply normally. This reply is sent back, translated, to your WACAO chat.
The assistant can also send out a preprogrammed “happy birthday” message to family and friends by typing the “HBD” command in the WACAO group, and it offers a “Do Not Disturb” mode that will automatically reply to incoming chats while you’re away with a message noting that you’re not available.
WACAO is available for anyone to try on Github.