The Crossword Companion

The Crossword Companion is an easy voice activated solution that makes crossword puzzles much easier. A true crossword coinsure might call this companion a form of cheating, but if you like crossword puzzles, and hate having the actually think, then The Crossword Companion is the solution to all of your woes!

DESIGN

When solving crossword puzzles, three main facets are taken into account:

  • The actual clue given in the puzzle
  • The length of the word that matches the given clue
  • Known letters from previous words crossing over the word that is currently being solved

Crossword Companion seeks to utilized all of these aspects to improve word lookup when trying to figure out the answer to a crossword puzzle. The Crossword Companion will look up words based upon the clue, the length, and any known letters. If The Crossword Companion does not have all three facets of crossword puzzle solving, it will prompt the user for these aspects of the crossword problem. Even if The Crossword Companion doesn’t give you the right answer, it attempts to jog your memory to find the correct crossword solution.

PROTOTYPE

Below, you will find 5 sample dialogs between The Crossword Companion and the user. Each script is looking for the word: ENIGMA. The user will know that they have an E and an A in the word, and that it is 6 letters long, but will not always start with all of the information. Given these 3 facts, there are a wide variety of conversations and interactions that the user can have with The Crossword Companion, depending on how much help the user is looking for.

The scripts are arranged so that the bullet points are an alternative script to acknowledge error handling and will be labeled by the number alternative error handling there is. For example the first alternate option will have a “(1)” next to the first line of an option.

Script 1: Clue

User: Crossword Buddy, what is a perplexing thing?

Crossword Companion: There are 50 words that mean a perplexing thing. Say “read them” to hear the first 5 words, or filter more by telling me any known letters in the word, or tell me how long the word is.

  • (1) User: Read Them
  • Crossword Companion: The words are baffle, bother, cabala, cipher, and enigma. If none of those words were right, say “read more” to hear the next 5 words on the list. Or filter these results by known letters, or the word length (Continues listing next 5 words in the 50 words listed in appendix A)
  • (2) User: A and E
  • Crossword Companion: There are 14 words that mean a perplexing thing and have and A and E in it. Say “read more” to hear the first 5 words in the link, or filter more by telling me the length of the word
  • User: Read More
  • Crossword Companion: The words are baffle, enigma, matter, scrape, and teaser Arcanum,. If none of those words were right, tell me the number of letters in the word or say “read more” to hear the next 5 words on the list. (Continue listing next 5 words in the 14 words listed in appendix B)

User: 6 letters

Crossword Companion: There are 15 six-letter words that mean a perplexing thing. Say “read them” to hear the first 5 words, or filter more by telling me any known letters in the word.

  • (1)User: Read Them
  • Crossword Companion: The words are baffle, bother, cipher, enigma, and pickle. If none of those words were right, say “read more” to hear the next 5 words on the list. (If Read more, Continue listing next 5 words in the 50 words listed in appendix D)

User: E and A

Crossword Companion: There are 5 six-letter words that mean a perplexing thing and have the letters E and A in them. They are: baffle, enigma, matter, scrape, and teaser.

Script 2: Clue and word length

User: Crossword Companion, what is a six-letter word that means a perplexing thing?

Crossword Companion: There are 15 six-letter words that mean a perplexing thing. Say “read them” to hear the first 5 results, or filter more by telling me any known letters in the word

  • (1) User: Read Them
  • Crossword Companion: The words are baffle, bother, cipher, enigma, and pickle. If none of those words were right, say read more to hear the next five words or tell me any known letters.(If Read more, Continue listing next 5 words in the 50 words listed in appendix D)

User: E and A

Crossword Companion: There are 5 six-letter words that mean a perplexing thing and have the letters E and A in them. They are: baffle, enigma, matter, scrape, and teaser.

Script 3: Pre-existing letters

User: Crossword Companion, I need a word with A and E in it.

Crossword Companion: There are 95,884 words with A and E in it. Say “read them” to hear the first 5 results, or filter these results by telling me any known letters in the word, or the crossword clue

  • (1) User: Read Them
  • Crossword Companion: The words are ABACUSES, ABALONE, ABALONES, ABAMPERE, and ABAMPERES. If none of those words were right, say “read more” to hear the next 5 words on the list, or filter these results by telling me the word length or crossword clue(If Read more, Continue listing next 5 words in the 50 words listed in appendix D)
  • (2) User: A perplexing thing
  • Crossword Companion: There are 13 words with a and E in them that means a perplexing thing. Filter these results by telling me any known letters in the word, or say “read them” to hear the first 5 results.
  • User: Read Them
  • Crossword Companion: The words are: baffle, enigma, matter, scrape, and teaser Arcanum. If none of those words were right, say “read more” to hear the next 5 words on the list. (If Read more, Continue listing next 5 words in the 50 words listed in appendix D)

User: 6 letters

Crossword Companion: There are 4694 6 letter words with A and E in it. say “read them” to hear the first 5 results, or filter these results by telling me it’s crossword clue.

  • (1) User: Read Them
  • Crossword Companion: The words are: ABASED, ABASER, ABASES, ABATED, and ABATER. If none of those words were right, say “read more” to hear the next 5 words on the list. or filter these results by the crossword clue. (If Read more, Continue listing next 5 words in the 50 words listed in appendix D)

User: A perplexing thing

Crossword Companion: There are 5 six-letter words that mean a perplexing thing and have the letters E and A in them. They are: baffle, enigma, matter, scrape, and teaser.

Script 4: World length

User: Crossword Companion, I need a 6 letter word

Crossword Companion: There are 10,050 words with 6 letters in them. Say “read them” to hear the first 5 results, or filter your results with the crossword clue or by telling me any letters already included in the word

  • (1) User: Read Them
  • Crossword Companion: The words are: purple, orange, family, twelve, silver. If none of those words were right, say “read more” to hear the next 5 words on the list, or filter these results by the crossword clue or known letters. (If Read more, Continue listing next 5 words in the 50 words listed in appendix D)
  • (2) User: A and E
  • Crossword Companion: There are 4694 6 letter words with A and E in them. Say “read them” to hear the first 5 results, or filter these results more by telling me the crossword clue

User: A perplexing thing

Crossword Companion: There are 15 six-letter words that mean a perplexing thing. Say “read them” to hear the first 5 words, or filter more by telling me any known letters in the word.

  • (1)User: Read Them
  • Crossword Companion: The words are baffle, bother, cipher, enigma, and pickle. If none of those words were right, say “read more” to hear the next 5 words on the list. (If Read more, Continue listing next 5 words in the 50 words listed in appendix D)

User: A and E

Crossword Companion: There are 5 six-letter words that mean a perplexing thing and have the letters E and A in them. They are: baffle, enigma, matter, scrape, and teaser.

Script 5: Word length, and pre-existing letters

User: Crossword Companion, I need a 6 letter word that contains A and E

Crossword Companion: There are 4694 6 letter words with A and E in them. Say “read them” to hear the first 5 results, or filter these results more by telling me the crossword clue

  • (1) User: Read Them
  • Crossword Companion: The words are: ABASED, ABASER, ABASES, ABATED, and ABATER. If none of those words were right, say “read more” to hear the next 5 words on the list. or filter these results by the crossword clue. (If Read more, Continue listing next 5 words in the 50 words listed in appendix E)

User: A perplexing thing

Crossword Companion: There are 5 six-letter words that mean a perplexing thing and have the letters E and A in them. They are: baffle, enigma, matter, scrape, and teaser.

Diagram

In order to fully understand the flow of the Crossword Companion VUI interactions, I created a flowchart. Note that there are multiple pink tiles for the “read them” option. They are all the same, but having a couple of them makes it far easier to comprehend the flow of these conversation

Flow of The Crossword Companion VUI

View the Lucid Document here

ANALYSIS

In testing, I found a lot of really fantastic feedback. My original solution for hearing the results from The Crossword Companion was to list all of the results at one time, which was really ridiculous if the results were more than approximately 10 to 20 words. But, this still doesn’t get rid of the overload of information from all of the words that The Crossword Companion gives to you.

If I were to continue to work on this project, I would add additional features to determine specific locations for letters while filtering. For example with ENIGMA, instead of filtering only by A and E, the user could filter by an E as the first letter, and a as the 6th letter. This might help reduce the number of incorrect words being read to the reader.

The feedback loop, and the ability to add new information each time around while talking to The Crossword Companion allows the user to narrow down their search results throughout the conversation. This was a very well liked aspect of the design, although it might be a little bit repetitive.

Testing also showed that the scripts I had for The Crossword Companion didn’t actually give users all of the option available for filtering. Conversely, though, giving the user all of these options might be overwhelming. But, there are only three options at most, so it might not be all that overwhelming. I think more user testing would be necessary to understand if these options are too much.

APPENDIX

A. baffle, bother, cabala, cipher, enigma, matter, occult, pickle, plight, pother, puzzle, riddle, scrape, secret teaser Arcanum, dilemma, floorer, mystery, nonplus, paradox, privity, problem, puzzler, sticker, stumper, unknown, frontier, oxymoron, quandary, question, confusion, conundrum, dark horse, esoterica, hermetic, the occult, bafflement, confidence, disconcert, nut to crack, perplexity, puzzlement, sealed book, the strange, the unknown disturbance, Gordian knot, knotty point, mind boggler, predicament, and bewilderment.

B: baffle, enigma, matter, scrape, teaser Arcanum, dilemma, dark horse, esoterica, bafflement, sealed book, the strange, the unknown disturbance, predicament

C. All 6 letter words

D. All words with A and E

E. All 6 letter words with A and E

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Valerie Remaker

Valerie Remaker

Student at University of Washington studying HCDE and Psychology