Alexa Pi

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Teacher Overview 

Raspbian is a Debian-based computer operating system for the Raspberry Pi computer. There are several versions of Raspbian including: Raspbian Stretch and Raspbian Jessie. Raspbian was created by Mike Thompson and Peter Green as an independent project, with an initial build completed in June 2012. Since 2015, Raspbian has been officially provided by the Raspberry Pi Foundation as its primary operating system for the family of Raspberry Pi single-board computers and is highly optimized for the Raspberry Pi line's low-performance ARM CPUs. 

The internet of things, or IoT, is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. 

IoT devices could be a person with a heart monitor implant, a farm animal with a biochip transponder, an automobile that has built-in sensors to alert the driver when tire pressure is low or any other natural or man-made object that can be assigned an IP address and is able to transfer data over a network. Increasingly, organisations in a variety of industries are using IoT to operate more efficiently, better understand customers to deliver enhanced customer service, improve decision-making and increase the value of the business. 

Alexa is Amazon’s cloud-based intelligent voice service and the IOT capability behind tens of millions of devices. Customers talk to Alexa through the Echo family of devices and over a hundred third-party products with Alexa built-in made by the world’s leading consumer electronics brands. With Alexa, device makers can build voice-forward products that offer a natural user interface and reach customers across the globe by joining the network of Alexa devices, skills, and services. You have the flexibility to build devices with Alexa built-in that customers can talk to directly, that give customers a more intuitive way to interact with the technology they use every day. 

Alexa built-in is a category of devices created with the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) that have a microphone and speaker. You can talk to these products directly with the wake word “Alexa,” and receive voice responses and content instantly. Alexa built-in products work with Alexa skills and Alexa-compatible smart home devices, bringing familiar capabilities from the Amazon Echo family of devices to a range of new form factors and use cases developed by leading brands. 

The Alexa Voice Service enables you to access cloud-based Alexa capabilities with the support of AVS APIs, hardware kits, software tools, and documentation. We simplify building voice-forward devices with Alexa built-in by handling complex speech recognition and natural language understanding in the cloud, reducing your development costs and accelerating your time to market. Best of all, regular Alexa updates bring new features to your device and add support for a growing assortment of compatible smart home devices.  

The AVS Device SDK (Simplifying Voice Design) provides C++-based libraries that enable your device to process audio inputs and triggers, establish persistent connections with AVS, and handle all Alexa interactions. The included capability agents expose the AVS API to handle core Alexa functionality, including speech recognition and synthesis, and other capabilities such as streaming media, timers and alarms, notifications, weather reports, and thousands of custom skills. Additionally, the SDK provides the hooks required to add your own wake word engine and audio player. 

In this project you will be combining the Raspberry Pi and the Amazon Alexa software, and you will be configuring the Raspberry Pi to run as an Alexa and be able to talk to it through a microphone. As well as ask questions and it will be able to reply through a speaker. 

Suggested Year Group  

The suggested age group is 16+, due to the nature of this project and the skills it is developing.  

 

Learning Outcomes 

  • Learn the basics of IoT; 

  • Understand the concepts of the virtual assistant;  

  • Learn how to configure the Raspberry Pi to be a virtual assistant; 

 

Hardware Required

Component Number (Peli Case) 

Slot 4 + 5 

Slot 5 

Slot 9 

Slot 3 

Slot 3 

Slot 5 

Slot 1 

 Slot 3

 Slot 3

Component Number (Box Case) 

Slot 1 

Slot 10 

Slot 2 

Slot 11 

Slot 11 

Slot 12 

Slot 13 

Slot 11 

Slot 11 

Component 

Raspberry Pi + Case 

Raspbian SD Card 

TFT Screen 

HDMI 

Wireless Keyboard 

Wireless Mouse 

Power Supply Unit 

Speakers/headphones 

USB Microphone 

 

Video Guide

 

Conclusion

This project is designed to introduce you to a virtual assistant and the applications they have as an IoT capability. You will have run multiple commands that will configure the Raspberry Pi to become a virtual assistant and run Alexa. In addition, you will have been able to communicate back and forth asking questions and getting replies from the Raspberry Pi. Virtual assistants are extremely powerful tools, and this tutorial is just scratching the surface of what you can achieve with it, there are so many different projects you can build around this. Keep in mind that the Raspberry is limited in processing power and will not be able to handle large volumes of traffic accurately.