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Free Raspberry Pi voice kit taps Google Assistant SDK

May 4, 2017 — by Eric Brown — 1,491 views
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Google is giving away an “AIY Projects” voice/AI kit for the Raspberry Pi to MagPi subscribers, featuring voice and stereo mic HAT add-ons.

Shortly after releasing a developer preview of the Google Assistant SDK designed for the Raspberry Pi, Google joined with The MagPi magazine to give away a Google Assistant driven voice kit to print subscribers. The free AIY Projects kit is bundled into edition 57 of the The MagPi, the official Raspberry Pi magazine.



AIY Projects kit in packaged and exploded views
(click images to enlarge)

The AIY Projects kit offers access to the Google Assistant SDK and Google Cloud Speech API to enable devices with voice response and AI functionality linked to Google’s search engine cloud services. The chief components are a Voice HAT (Hardware Attached on Top) board and Voice HAT Stereo Microphone board. A large arcade button is included for summoning the Google voice agent as an alternative to saying “OK Google.”


Completed AIY Projects device (left) and a Nazbaztag device based on it designed by Bastiaan Slee

The kit features a cardboard enclosure similar to that of the open source Google Cardboard VR viewer. You’ll also find a 4-ohm speaker, wires, and a micro-switch, among other components.


Two views of the Voice HAT board connected to a Raspberry Pi 3
(click images to enlarge)

The kit has already been seeded to several Hackster.io developers who have posted open source designs. These include a Nabaztag desktop robot and a voice-enabled Candy Dispenser.

Google has posted a community project page with detailed instructions on assembly. In an Element14 blog post, meanwhile, “Shabazz” jumped in with a hands-on report.

“Handily the Pi’s I2C, SPI and UART connections are broken out to pads all ready for soldering to the supplied SIL header pins,” writes Shabazz, referring to the main Voice HAT board. “There are also some output pins, probably MOSFET driven….On the left of the board, there is space for soldering SIL pins for attaching hobby servo motors…The centre of the board contains the audio codec.”



Voice HAT Stereo Mic board (left) and Voice HAT I/O detail showing SIL header pins
(click images to enlarge)

The Google Assistant SDK is initially designed for prototyping voice agent technology on the Raspberry Pi 3 using Python and Raspbian Linux, but it should work with most Linux distributions. The SDK lets developers add voice control, natural language understanding, and Google AI services to a variety of devices. The SDK incorporates the Python version of the gRPC API, an open source remote procedure call (RPC) client.


Raspberry Pi
Zero W

The announcement only mentions support for a Raspberry Pi 3, but the MagPi AIY Projects hands-on video below says it will also work with a Raspberry Pi 2 or Zero. Presumably, that also means the new wireless-enabled Raspberry Pi Zero W. On May 3, the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced that the Zero W has already sold more than 250,000 units in the first nine weeks. The Foundation has added 13 new distributors to increase availability outside of Europe and North America.




MagPi hands-on video about AIY Projects

 
Further information

The MagPi subscribers should start receiving their copies with the bundled AIY Projects kit on May 5. The MagPi 57 magazines are also available in UK stores like WHSmith, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Asda, and will soon be available in North America venues including Barnes & Noble. Online orders are available at The PiHut. More information may be found on the Raspberry Pi blog announcement, as well as Google’s AIY Projects community page.
 

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