Highway Radar v2.3: Voice control and alerts reporting

ferius

More arrows please
Intermediate User
Lifetime Premium Member
Software Developer
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
309
Reaction score
1,112
Location
Seattle area, WA
Hi everyone,

I'm happy to announce that I've published v2.3 to the beta channel. I'm planning to keep this update in beta mode for several weeks while observing stability and tuning the performance; later, I'll make it public. To become a beta tester, you need to enroll in Play Market on the app's page.

Version 2.3 is quite a significant update focused on the hands-free usage of the application. The main features added are voice control and automated VVaze reporting. Take a look at the demo, how it all works together.


Note that I didn't touch the screen while recording that video, even VVaze reports were performed automatically without me touching the screen.

Voice control

Voice control is a set of several predefined commands that can control the application. Currently, there are four main groups of commands
  • Switching map layers (switch to heat map, switch to weather radar, disable map overlay, etc.)
  • Reporting something to VVaze (report visible police, report major crash on the other side, report object on road, etc.)
  • Muting alerts (mute current alert, mute all alerts)
  • Sending a bug report (submit bug report)
The voice control is in quite a very beta stage and may not work in 100% of cases (I'm not a Google or Amazon, so don't expect a comparable accuracy); however, here are some pro-tips to make it work better
  • Mute all audio sources. You don't want the app to recognize words from the song playing. Ensure you are the only thing that the app can hear. Once the voice command is started, the app will mute all the phone audio, so no need to worry about it. However, it can't mute the radio or a radar detector, so take care of it yourself.
  • Don't speak too fast. The speech recognition model was trained on audiobooks. So, to achieve the best results, try talking at the same rate as you can hear in audiobooks or podcasts.
  • Speak loud. Not every phone has a very sensitive mic so you may need to speak up a bit for better results. No need to shout but talking slightly louder than you normally do in the car could help.
  • Share your data. The app can send me audio from all your voice commands. By default, this option is disabled, but I'd very much appreciate it if you turn it on. The more real-world data I have, the better I can tune the voice model to the real-world conditions. Having just a couple of thousands of recordings can drastically improve the accuracy of the model I use. I can't do them myself, but altogether this is possible. Also, if the training data for the model has your samples, then the model will work better specifically for you as well. From my side, I do my best to handle that data properly. First of all, even before being sent, it is anonymized to the level of me not being able to understand if two different recordings are from the same device or not. I don't log any location, device ID, IP address, or anything else besides the audio file containing zero metadata. I also promise not to share the data with anyone except two cases:
  1. I can send the data to the public speech recognition services (such as Google Cloud Engine) to obtain accurate transcriptions.
  2. I can send them to crowdsourcing marketplaces such as Amazon MTurk or Yandex Toloka, where they can be transcribed by humans.
For speech recognition, I had two options. The first was taking a "Google" approach, trying to recognize a freeform text, and building a dialog system. I'd be so happy to implement that system, but unfortunately, Highway Radar is a one-developer project, and that developer hasn't earned as much money as Google did, sad. Also, I tried using Google's general purpose speech model and it didn't work well for recognizing Highway Radar commands.

The second approach is to make a small offline model capable of recognizing a short set of commands. This means that you can't use freeform phrases and have to stick to a predefined set of ones (find it in the settings). For example, you can't say "Put a police marker in VVaze" or "Report a speed trap". Instead, you should stick to the "Report police" phrase. However, there is some acceptable variance (e.g., my model will recognize both "Report police on the other side" and "Report opposite police"), but the set of these phrases is very limited and predefined. Besides this approach working better than the using the Google's general speech recognition, it also works fully offline and even without an internet connection.

There are three ways to start a voice command:
  • Say "Voice command"; just like "Ok, google" but "Voice command."
  • Do a three-finger tap anywhere on the screen.
  • Tap and hold on the speed or the speed limit text.
Any of these options can be disabled in the settings.

Automated VVaze reports

I felt that it is a bit unfair that HwR users could easily use the crowdsources data, but reporting involved a lot of motion (switch apps, wait, tap buttons, switch apps back). So I decided that this should be automated, and not the HwR can do these actions for you. Note that it isn't sending the report directly from the HwR; however, the HwR can switch to VVaze, tap all the required buttons, and switch back. Cool, isn't it?

Also, the "Waze" button can be set not only to launch Waze but also to click the report button, so the location of the report is immediately captured. Even if it doesn't report everything for you it puts a marker fast so you can complete the report later when it is safer to do so.

Highway Radar uses an accessibility service to manipulate with other apps on your behalf; you'll need to enable it in the settings (there is a direct link on the start page).

Besides these two main features, here are some other features that appeared in the v2.3
  • The map can be dragged and zoomed by labels. The labels are no longer "no-touch" zones and behave similarly to map markers. You can place fingers on them when starting map drag or zoom.
  • Added an option to set up manual default map zoom instead of using the one defined by the police alert distances.
  • Added an option to show map labels for the aircraft similar to police and hazard labels.
  • Map labels are now colored depending on the type (black - police, blue - aircraft, orange - hazard, purple - camera).
  • Added an option to reset the phone's volume to a specific value every time you start the service.
  • Added app permissions status to the start screen. Tap on missing permission to grant it.
  • Disabled alerts for cameras and hazards on the link roads joining the current street. You still get alerts about police on the link roads.
  • Bigger Waze button. It takes the entire space used by the "mute" button when there is nothing to mute.
  • Changed the logic of auto-zooming map. Now the level of auto zoom depends on your speed. Also, prepared to introduce several levels of auto-zoom in the next update.

As this is quite a big update, it may also be not very stable. Please expect some bugs or issues may happen. Please report them here or using the bug report feature (triple tap on the speed or "Submit bug report" using the new voice control). This version can stay in beta for quite a while as many features need to be tuned, and I don't drive much these days as mostly working from home now.

Also, I'll pause working on the new application features for the next several weeks as I have plenty of work to do on the other side of the application (generating heat maps, risk scores, working with aircraft databases, building road graphs, camera databases and the other stuff that isn't directly visible but still requires new features and some maintenance work).

So, stay healthy and have fun! And special thanks to those 85 people switched to the beta update channel!
 

UnderCover

Beep...Beep...Beep Beep...Beeeeeeeeeep!
Intermediate User
Joined
May 29, 2017
Messages
344
Reaction score
412
Impressive as always!
 

infiniti

Advanced User
Lifetime Premium Member
Joined
Jun 8, 2014
Messages
2,487
Reaction score
2,816
Location
Ohio
Awesome.

I still see 2.2.2 in beta on Google play store.
 

ferius

More arrows please
Intermediate User
Lifetime Premium Member
Software Developer
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
309
Reaction score
1,112
Location
Seattle area, WA
@infiniti, @fitz4321 - I believe, the Play Store doesn't push the new version instantly and sometimes it may take up to 24 hours for an update to come through. I've just verified, the Play Store has the new version uploaded, so, probably, you need to wait a bit.
 
Last edited:

plm

Learning to Fly
Beginner User
Joined
Jan 28, 2020
Messages
184
Reaction score
151
Location
Los Angeles
The Play Store must really have a backlog at the moment, because I'm still not seeing it available there. Can't wait to get the new functionality to launch and immediately report in that other popular navigation application.
 

NVR2FST

Advanced User
Lifetime Premium Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2011
Messages
1,402
Reaction score
1,084
Location
Somewhere in cyberspace.
The Play Store must really have a backlog at the moment, because I'm still not seeing it available there. Can't wait to get the new functionality to launch and immediately report in that other popular navigation application.
Still no sign of it.
 

ferius

More arrows please
Intermediate User
Lifetime Premium Member
Software Developer
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
309
Reaction score
1,112
Location
Seattle area, WA
Looks like Google decided to send this update for a manual review. If so it may take a week or more for the update to go through.
1585785514628.png
 
Last edited:

infiniti

Advanced User
Lifetime Premium Member
Joined
Jun 8, 2014
Messages
2,487
Reaction score
2,816
Location
Ohio
fingers crossed
 

plm

Learning to Fly
Beginner User
Joined
Jan 28, 2020
Messages
184
Reaction score
151
Location
Los Angeles
Looks like Google decided to send this update for a manual review. If so it may take a week or more for the update to go through.
Oh that sucks. Hopefully they have some staff to be able to review it in a reasonable time at the moment.
 

ferius

More arrows please
Intermediate User
Lifetime Premium Member
Software Developer
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
309
Reaction score
1,112
Location
Seattle area, WA
Oh that sucks. Hopefully they have some staff to be able to review it in a reasonable time at the moment.
It took 5 days for RD test to get reviewed and published. Let's see how much will it take for this update.

Also, I've published an update for RD test yesterday and it landed today. Probably the presence of a new accessibility service in the Highway Radar triggered the manual check.
 
Last edited:

UnderCover

Beep...Beep...Beep Beep...Beeeeeeeeeep!
Intermediate User
Joined
May 29, 2017
Messages
344
Reaction score
412
I updated mine. Really cool with voice control!
 

plm

Learning to Fly
Beginner User
Joined
Jan 28, 2020
Messages
184
Reaction score
151
Location
Los Angeles
Good news here. Google Play reports the new version is finally reviewed, so it should be updated on all devices quite soon.
Got the update this morning; thanks.

What's the idea behind the delay before executing command setting? I'd have thought you would want as short a delay as possible if you're using it for Waze reporting, so the report gets captured as close to the event as possible, but there's clearly a reason why you've added this option that I'm not thinking of
 

ferius

More arrows please
Intermediate User
Lifetime Premium Member
Software Developer
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
309
Reaction score
1,112
Location
Seattle area, WA
Got the update this morning; thanks.

What's the idea behind the delay before executing command setting? I'd have thought you would want as short a delay as possible if you're using it for Waze reporting, so the report gets captured as close to the event as possible, but there's clearly a reason why you've added this option that I'm not thinking of
To give you an option to cancel the execution in case it was recognized wrong. You can reduce the delay to just 1 second in the settings.
 

Discord Server

Forum statistics

Threads
85,326
Messages
1,297,055
Members
21,523
Latest member
EMCCM
Top