WolfraSMS, the Power of Search via SMS and WolframAlpha

Martin Pannier was looking for a way to bring the power of search similar to Siri to a wider audience, why should iPhone 4s owners have all the fun? What he built is WolfraSMS: a simple SMS app that harnesses the search capabilities of Wolfram|Alpha, powered by Twilio.

Martin is the co-founder and COO of SocialFolders, a service to organize your social content in the cloud. WolfraSMS is the very first app Martin built with Twilio – quite impressive. Follow Martin on Twitter @martinpannier and read his blog here.

What exactly is WolfraSMS?

WolfraSMS is—very simply—a way to ask the Wolfram|Alpha computational search engine questions, by sending a simple SMS. You can send a variety of questions, such as “Where was Obama born?” or “Who was the third president of the United States?” to the WolfraSMS number and it will send you back the answer in SMS form.

What was the inspiration for building WolframSMS?

I love Siri. Being able to ask questions and get the answer, and not only a series of links, is quite remarkable. But Siri is only available to iPhone 4S users. I wanted to bring some of the power of Siri to the 99%!

SMS is incredible for its ubiquity: anywhere, and with any phone, you can send and receive SMS messages. Geeks don’t quite realize the power of this ubiquity, as they always tend to have huge data plans and sophisticated smartphones.

Match the two… boom: WolfraSMS.

How are you using Twilio?

Twilio powers the whole SMS hub.

What other technologies are you using to build/support it?

The app was coded in Python and is hosted on Heroku.

How did you get started developing with Twilio?

With WolfraSMS :) It’s actually my first Twilio app.

What’s next for WolframSMS?

This is a side project for me, so with limited time on my hands, what’s realistically next is easter eggs and more thorough use of the Wolfram|Alpha answers—as for brevity reasons, only the most relevant part of the answers is returned. If I had more time, I would include the same search engines as Apple uses for Siri—starting with Yelp.

Then Siri would really be available to anyone in the world!