Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Talking Computer Assistant -- Success!

I know it's been a while since I posted anything. It's not that I haven't been working on things, I just haven't been able to get anything finished. Well, something has finally come together.

Back in May of last year I blogged about a project that I had been working on to build a talking assistant that would read my Google Calendar and remind me of events that were coming up. I had it working reasonably well, but as I was about to tell you all about it it stopped working. It seemed to be a change that Google make to its speech-to-text software that caused the problem. I was already kind of sick of working on it, and that was the last straw so I set it aside.

I went back to it recently and it looks like I have it working. As I mentioned last May, I was inspired by and article in Make Magazine Volume 30 by George Tempesta about building a Notification Alert Generator or NAG. As I just mentioned, I wanted to take it further and have it read the information from my Google Calendar. I needed more horsepower so I based it on a Raspberry Pi Linux computer, and I call it the NAGPi.

The first time I come into my office on a given day (it detects my presence with a Passive Infrared Sensor like is used in burglar alarm systems) it asks whether I want to review my calendar. If I don't it goes back to sleep and asks me later. If I do it goes through the reminders from my Google Calendar one at a time and asks me whether I want to keep it or delete it. If I keep it the NagPi will remind me about it again next time.

Below is a video demonstrating the NagPi. There isn't really anything to watch on this device but Blogspot doesn't have a provision for uploading audio files so I did a video just to show you how it works.

Again, I want to thank three people for their ideas and guidance on this project. First, George Tempesta for his article in Make, then Dan Fountain for teaching me to use Google text-to-speech and finally Steven Hickson for his exhaustive work on controlling a Raspberry Pi with one's voice.

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