Voice, Web and Mobile Applications

Voice, Web and Mobile Apps JBS

Professors Timothy Hickey and Marie Meteer | 9 Weeks, 12 Credits | June 4 - Aug. 3, 2018

Voice-based apps can enrich human experience immeasurably. In the developing world, where mobile phones are everywhere but smartphones are not, they can serve as economic and social change agents. They can also help people with disabilities to communicate, reduce distracted driving and serve myriad other purposes.

Ready to create a world-changing app?

In 9 weeks, you'll learn the fundamental concepts behind the voice model of interaction and quickly put theory into practice - using state-of-the-art algorithms to build rapid-scaling servers in the cloud, as well as apps for Web browsers and mobile devices. You'll learn from innovators at Boston-area software companies, strengthening your professional networks as well as your knowledge.

Program Highlights:

While activities, guest speakers, field trips, and assignments will vary from year to year, when this program was offered last summer students:

  • Had visits from guest speakers from area tech companies like Jibo - a company working to bring the world's first family robot into homes.
  • Visited Amazon's "Alexa" Speech Lab for an inside look at Amazon's speech recognition technology.  Then, students engaged in a little friendly competition to develop applications for the Amazon Echo speech device.
  • Learned about "User Centered Design for Mobile Applications" and "Design Axioms" from experts working in the field.
  • Spent weeks in a "start-up culture" as students worked in small project teams to design and build their own working apps.  Here are some example apps from summer 2016:
    • The Chef's Assistant App - a hands-free app that features over 300,000 recipes with voice-activated, step-by-step instructions. Users can search by the ingredients they have on hand, the type of cuisine they want to eat, or special dietary restrictions.
    • PlanDeis - an app that helps students access course data on all Brandeis course since 2004. The data can help students work out their classes  for the coming year including planning schedules for one or more majors.
    • Virtual Pet -- an online pet you can talk with.  It will tell you the weather, a joke, and let you navigate between pages all using voice commands.

Ideal for

This program is designed for undergraduate or graduate students that have completed at least the first two courses in the computer science major or the equivalent, and are interested in developing web applications that rely on social networking techniques.

Students in this JBS will earn 12 credit hours and fulfill three Science (SN) requirements toward graduation. Additionally, for most students, one JBS can count as a semester of residency toward graduation (all students - but particularly transfer students - should click here for terms and conditions surrounding residency requirements). Students will also earn three 100-level COSI electives toward a Computer Science major or minor.


COSI 152aj - Web Application Development
Requirements Fulfilled: SN
Prerequisites: COSI 11a, COSI 12b, or permission of one of the JBS instructors.

Description: An introduction to web programming that covers the fundamental languages and tools, including HTML/CSS for page layout, javascript/ajax for client-side integration, and server-side programming in Java, Ruby, and SQL. The course also discusses security, scaling/optimization, and multi-tier architectures.

COSI 154aj - The JBS Incubator
Requirements Fulfilled: SN

Description: An introduction to software engineering for web and mobile applications. Covers agile programming techniques, rapid prototyping, source control paradigms, effective software documentation, design of effective APIs, software testing and analysis, software licensing, with an introduction to business plans for software entrepreneurs.

COSI 115bj - Spoken Dialog Design
Requirements Fulfilled: SN

Description: Interactive applications have become ubiquitous around the world on phones and other devices. Since voice is the most natural medium for human communication, spoken dialog is becoming an essential part of the interface. However, creating an effective spoken dialog application requires more than just programming skills. It requires knowledge from many disciplines including linguistics, artificial intelligence, computer-human interaction, and computational linguistics. This course will bring together the essential elements of these fields and the software skills and tools required to build an effective dialog system and guide students through hands-on projects applying that knowledge to real applications.

Note: Application to this JBS is open to all Brandeis students who have taken COSI 11a and COSI 12b. Students who have not met these prerequisites may petition to enter the program.


If you have questions about the program, please email Prof. Timothy Hickey at: tjhickey@brandeis.edu, or Prof. Marie Meteer at: mmeteer@brandeis.edu.

If you have questions about the application process or have general programs about the JBS program, email us at: jbsprogram@brandeis.edu.

JBS Applications:

The application period for Summer 2018 is now open!

Applicants should first review the application process, then begin your JBS application here.

There are limited spaces and financial aid for all JBS programs, so applicants are encouraged to apply early - each summer this program has filled to capacity and had a waiting list.  Apply today!