Miguel Ángel @mianfg

Data & Machine Learning Engineer

PictoMaker Lite

A lightweight API to translate sentences into pictograms

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Mar 2022
nlp, education, translator, pictograms

PictoMaker Lite is a lightweight API that enables you to translate any sentence into a sequence of pictograms. It uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to syntactically analyze the sentence and lemmatize its components, whether it is in Spanish, English or Polish (more languages soon!). Then, it uses this information to generate an array of possible pictograms, that you can use later.

This API extensively uses ARASAAC, an open-source Spanish project that compiles incredible sequences of pictograms.

Use cases

As a pilot, PictoMaker Lite can be used in Cisco Webex (more information here). You can try it out by adding to your Webex account. This bot adds functionality like color tagging, choosing whether images should be colored or not upon generation, and skin tone options.

Sequence of pictograms generated by PictoMaker's Webex Bot and PictoMaker Lite. It reads "Have a great day!"

Some things about PictoMaker...

👩‍💻 How did it come about?

A few years ago, and motivated by my mother, who is a teacher of students with special needs, I decided to start the project PictoMaker. PictoMaker is basically a program that translates sentences to colorful pictograms, and that helped my mother in teaching people with autism and Down syndrome. The first version of PictoMaker I developed, only in Spanish, was the first webapp I ever developed, and received a warm reception from the educational community. I was really proud of it, and have always wanted to make improvements to it.

As part of the Cisco Incubator Program 9.0, I was approached with the task to create a bot for Cisco Webex, and I thought it was an amazing opportunity to go back to PictoMaker and try and improve it, by separating the original webapp into an API and a separate interface that could take advantage of it (in this case, a Webex bot).

🤷 Why pictograms?

Learning through pictograms is an essential tool for children with special educational needs, as well as crutial for elder people with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. I developed PictoMaker to make it easy for people to communicate using the power of images.

👓 Why do a syntactical analysis?

PictoMaker leverages the power of AI to lemmatize the different words you input (getting the basic form of the word) to search for the images, as well as it uses it to construct a syntactical analysis tree and allow people (and especially children) to better distinguish between words.