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Google Aiy Voicekit

Google AIY VoiceKit - #7 on Holiday Techie Fun Project List

TOday was a few more hours of geeky fun during my holiday break. Today’s task was to setup and experiment with Google AIY VoiceKit.

#Project Overview This project demonstrates how to get a natural language recognizer up and running and connect it to the Google Assistant, using your AIY Projects voice kit. Along with everything the Google Assistant already does, you can add your own question and answer pairs. All in a handy little cardboard cube, powered by a Raspberry Pi.

#Thoughts The setup was pretty easy. I supplied my own Raspberry Pi 3. It uses a custom Raspian image downloaded and installed. The book that comes with the kit is published by MagPi. Setup took a little over an hour. It includes a speaker, a special voice recogntion hat and a microphone board. It was pretty darn easy to setup up. Setup requires creating your Google Cloud account (free tier) and enabling voice API recognition.

#Challenge Ok, I spent more time trying to get the python module to auto-start. It turns out there there is a developer command prompt that has to be used to run the python, else you get a module load error. I’m still looking for a solution because i’d like to be able to just plug in the device and have it run so I can just say “Hey Google”.

Cortana Harmon Kardon Smartthings

Home Automation with Cortana - #6 on Holiday Techie Fun Project List

Ok, I have this cool Harmon Kardon Cortana device. You can think of it being like the Amazon Alexa except it is Cortana AND it has a GREAT speaker. Since it is Cortana it includes great features like making Skype calls, reading your calendar etc.

To link up with SmartThings, there is a SmartHome feature in the cortana notebook. Once i connected my SmartThings I could ask Cortana “Turn on the Lights” and my hue lights turned on. It is super easy how all of this comes together.

Next i’m shopping for compatible outlets. I’m considering whether or not to get actual outlets and install them myself. Hmmm.

Azure Iot Starter Kit

Azure IOT Starter Kit - #5 on Holiday Techie Fun Project List

The day after Christmas is in some ways the second best day of the year. It’s the perfect day to do whatever you want with no obligations. I’m playing with my toys! One of them is the MXCHIP IoT DevKit.

Today I started by setting up the device and getting it on my Wifi. I installed the local dev libraries including the Microsoft Code integrated samples. Both of these setups are in the Getting Started Guide.

Next I dove into the sample Connect to Azure IOT Hub. This was pretty darn easy to setup. It automates the setup of a free-tier IOT Hub in your azure subscription. Then it publishes their simple arduino app to the MXChip DevKit device. The app polls the temp and humidity every second and sends it to the IOT hub. You can connect to the device to monitor the sending of the data. However the example was somewhat unsatisfying because it didn’t show me how to see the data on teh Azure side.

In order to be able to monitor the data I wanted to be able to see a real-time update through PowerBI. Fortunately that was pretty easy too. Realtime visualization of sensor data includes the steps to create a Stream Analytics and publish the data to PowerBI. Within PBI you just create a report that shows the Temp and Humidity data. Voila, device to visualization in no time.

One next step would be to convert the data from celcius to farenheit That will require PBI desktop. Another item is that the free tier is limited to 8K messages per day. I should change the code to post less frequently (like very 10 seconds instead of every second).

Smartthings Hub

SmartThings Home Automation - #4 on Holiday Techie Fun Project List

Santa knows what I like! He brought me the Samsung SmartThings Hub and an outlet for the same.

It took me a little while to get the app to let me log in/register. I found the Samsung app for iOS to be pretty confusing. I’m still not sure that i’m getting it when it comes to working with the app. I understand that there are REST APIs so it may be worthwhile to look for better solutions.

The Arrival Sensor looks pretty cool. Also this is supposed to work with a whole bunch of differnt sensors supporting Z-Wave and Zigbee.

Microsoft Quantum Computing

Quantum Computing - #3 on Holiday Techie Fun Project List

Wow, I’m on a roll. A couple of days ago I shared my Holiday Techie Fun Project List in which I have listed my candidate geeky projects for the holiday season.

Today’s project was to learn about Quantum Computing and to write Hello World with Microsoft’s Quantum Development Kit.

THe Quantun Development Kit is an add-in for Visual Studio. Hello World is the “Teleportation Sample” program. I’m intrigued but not sure I fully grok how this works or the signficance. The fundamental building block of a quantum computer and of the programming is a Qubit. The sample code includes a new language called Q#. The sample transforms the state of a qubit to another qubit through an operation called teleportation.

Quantum computing is a fascinating future wave of technology that has the potential to drastically transform our world. Quantum computers have the ability to solve problems that are practically impossible to model with digital computers that 0/1 based. Quantum computers could help solve some of the most challenging problems of our world in food production, energy, global climate,medicine, and health.

There seems to be a race ongoing between Microsoft, Google, and IBM to find the breakthroughs to make this a reality. Microsoft has been working on this for ten years. Because of it’s potential impact, it makes me think a bit about the Manhattan Project. It’s implications for our world are immense and the stakes are high.

Here are some good videos to check out to learn more.