As it turns out, making smart gadgets and cameras is no longer rocket science. And you don’t have to graduate from MIT or drop-out like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs did either. You just have to buy your Google Kits at Target to pull it off. AI kits, both the Voice and Vision versions are now sold at one of the biggest mainstream stores, leveling-up DIY to new heights.
Largely educational kits, for now, the present models are upgrades of last year’s and now uses Raspberry Pi Zero, requires Internet connection and comes with a microSD card, cables, and a speaker. The Voice Kit sells for $49.99 which is a small price to pay to understand AI. This neat package comes complete and enables you to make an Echo/Google Home speaker or device that communicates through the cloud and is capable of answering basic questions and responding to simple requests. It may be fun and engaging but serious enough for those deeply interested in market-learning. Perfect for budding researchers and STEM students, you learn about voice recognition using your own voice commands and working with Google Assistant to build your own smart speaker.
The Google Vision Kit AIY retails for $89.99 does not require the Internet to build your smart camera. It makes users understand facial recognition – and goes beyond detecting faces to identifying emotions using a”joy scale”. It can also recognize about a thousand objects and uses Raspberry Pi ZWH and Raspberry Pi Camera. According to the Google announcement, it features the Intel Movidius chip and is designed for simple neural network applications – but it does process images at 30 FPS.
The interesting part is that you can go beyond these simple projects that demonstrate what AI could do and how it operates to something that Make Magazine claims can solve real-world problems. Using Python API, the RGB and other controls can be further customized and the 4 GPIO expansion pins can be connected to your own hardware to expand capabilities. Make Magazine further challenges users not to be just passive ones but truly interactive as it brings these kits in real, mundane scenarios like:
- Turn music on when someone walks through the door
- Send a text when your car leaves the driveway
- Open the dog door when she wants to get back in the house
In general, reviews were excellent with some caveats on the speed and warnings about instructions. Users found it needed more baseline knowledge but otherwise finds the tech perfect for the “maker generation”.