This is the age of smart home assistants, but not the human kind. The last couple of years a fever pitch has been building up over these smart home assistants, and every manufacture is now offering their own version. While Apple offers Siri, Amazon presents Echo and Alexa, Microsoft wants us to use Cortana, and Google tempts us with Google Home Assistant, there are several more in the race. However, in this melee, Raspberry Pi (RBPi) enthusiasts can make their own smart speaker using the SBC.
Although you can buy Google Home, the problem is it is not available worldwide. However, it is a simple matter to have the Google Assistant in your living room, provided you have an RBPi3 or an RBPiZ. Just as with any other smart home assistant, your RBPi3 home assistant will let you control any device connected to it, simply with your voice.
The first thing you need to communicate with your assistant is a microphone and a speaker. The May issue MagPi, the official RBPi magazine, had carried a nice speaker set sponsored by Google. However, if you have missed the issue, you can use any speaker and USB microphone combination available. The MagPi offer is an AIY Voice Kit for making your own home assistant. AIY is an acronym coined from AI or Artificial Intelligence, and DIY or DO it Yourself.
The MagPi Kit is a very simple arrangement. The magazine offers a detailed instruction set anyone can follow. If you do not have the magazine, the instructions are available on their AIY projects website. The contents of the kit include Voice HAT PCB for controlling the microphone and switch, a long PCB with two microphones, a switch, a speaker, an LED light, a switch mechanism, a cardboard box for assembling the kit, and cables for connecting everything.
Apart from the kit, you will also require additional hardware such as an RBPi3, a micro SD card for installing the operating system, a screwdriver, and some scotch tape.
After collecting all the parts, start the assembly by connecting the Voice HAT PCB. It controls the microphones and the switch, and you attach it to the RBPi3 or RBPiZ using the two small standoffs. Take care to align the GPIO connectors on the HAT to that on the RBPi, and push them in together to connect.
The combination of the HAT board and RBPi will go into the first box. You will need to fold the box taking care to keep the written words on the outside. Place the speaker inside the box first, taking care to align it to the side with the holes. Now, connect the cables to the Voice HAT, and place the combination inside the box.
Next, assemble the switch and LED, inserting the combination into the box. Take care to connect the cables in proper order according to the instructions. As the last step, use the PCB with the two microphones, and use scotch tape to attach it to the box.
Now flash the SD card with the Voice Kit SD image from the website, and insert it into the RBPi. Initially, you may need to monitor the RBPi with an HDMI cable, a keyboard, and mouse.