Sunday, May 11, 2014

Talking Computer Assistant -- Fail

Some time back there was an article in Make Magazine written by George Tempesta.
Make Magazine Electronic Nag He described building a project that would play pre-recorded reminders. It uses an Arduino's clock and a proximity sensor to know when to play the reminders.

I thought I would like to take it further and have it read my Google Calendar and take the reminders from there. I didn't want to have to record a specific reminder for each event so I wanted to use text-to-speech conversion so it could read me the reminders, and then I thought it would make sense to use voice recognition so I could tell it whether to save the reminder so the next time it detected my presence it would remind me again, or delete it because I had done whatever I wanted to do. I knew that all this text to speech and speech to text stuff would as well as interfacing with my Google Calendar was going to take some extra processing horsepower, so I planned on using a Raspberry Pi which, for those of you not among the cognoscenti, is a single-board Linux computer.

Everything was going along swimmingly. I studied at the University of Google and found a great article by a guy named Dan Fountain on converting text to speech here. It had my Raspberry Pi yacking up a storm in no time. Then I found an article by Dave Conroy on using the Google Speech Recognition interface here. It worked great. I wrote the programs I needed and assembled them into a workable system, albeit version 1.0 with lots more things I wanted to do.

On this past Wednesday I started to write this post and got out my video camera to record a demonstration to show you. Well, it didn't work. I went through it and figured out that Google turned off the version of speech recognition that I (and apparently a lot of other people) were using, and replaced it with a newer version. Unfortunately, the newer version is aimed at professional developers and has a whole charging scheme in place.

I was very pleased with how the system was working and now I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I am looking around for another system, as well as considering joining the Google Developers Network but I haven't yet been able to figure out exactly what that entails. I'm sorry this is so anti-climactic and will report back as soon as I get it working again, but I wanted you to know I haven't been just lolling around.

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