A do-it-yourself kit links the Raspberry PI to Google Assistant

By Gary Elinoff,
contributing writer

Google and AIY Projects have released the AIY Voice Kit for use with
the well-known and popular Raspberry Pi Model B. When fully assembled, it allows
users to control the Raspberry Pi 3 with voice commands, a capability not
readily available until now. 

After the kit has been assembled and programmed, it can be
used to voice-operate basically anything that is controlled electrically, from
a garage door opener to your home entertainment system. The setup isn’t
expensive, even after you buy what isn’t included, such as an SD card to hold
the software image and the Raspberry itself. But there are less expensive ways
to affect voice control. The real purpose here is to learn about AI, especially
the Google variety, and AIY, appropriately enough, is an acronym for Artificial
Intelligence Yourself. 

So, while this project is not designed for production, it
certainly is a way to introduce engineers to the concept of control via
artificial intelligence, and to Google’s standards and methods in particular.
To that end, the fully assembled kit is linked by default to Google Assistant SDK. 

Note that it’s possible to use Google Assistant with a
Raspberry Pi without this kit. The purpose of the kit is only facilitation;
providing a solid, tested hardware platform to work with so nothing will get in
the way of exploring the world of Google AI. 

The hardware 

Here’s what
the Kit looks like out of the box.

 

AIY_Voice_Kit

Figure 1. AIY Voice Kit. Image Source: Image Source: AIY Projects.

The Kit is
also known as the AIY Voice HAT Kit, with the HAT standing for Hardware
Accessory on Top
. The namesake Voice Hat Accessory Board is the heart of
the system, and interfaces directly with the Raspberry. It’s shown below in
Figure 2, being installed on top of the Raspberry, as part of the assembly of
the kit. 

 

Voice_Hat_Accessory_Board

Figure 2. The Voice
Hat Accessory Board is installed on top of the Raspberry. Image Source: AIY Projects.

The mechanical and electrical assembly is well documented,
and should present no problems.

The software 

Your first step is to download the Voice Kit SD image from
Google and download it to the SD card. Of course, you’ll need an
internet-enabled computer to do this. You’ll also need a Google account to
access the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). From there, you can create the
“project” that ultimately animates the assembled AIY Voice Kit.

It should go without saying that the assembled AIY Voice Kit
requires a keyboard, mouse, and monitor. The next step is to install the loaded
SD card into the appropriate slot on the Raspberry PI. You’ll need a good Wi-Fi
connection, because the device needs to connect to the Google Cloud Platform.
Then turn on the power, and you’re ready to rock. 

Google provides a lot of online documentation on how to
proceed, because, after all, Google’s whole purpose in this endeavor is to
create a whole generation of AI activists, and more specifically, Google AI
lovers.