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Google brings AI to Raspberry Pi

In May 2017, Google announced a new project called AIY Projects – do-it-yourself artificial intelligence for makers – to enable them to use Google's artificial intelligence in their own homebrew projects using commodity hardware like Raspberry Pis.

"With AIY Projects, Makers can use artificial intelligence to make human-to-machine interaction more like human-to-human interactions. We'll be releasing a series of reference kits, starting with voice recognition," Billy Rutledge, Director of AIY Projects wrote in a company blog [1].

Google's voice recognition capabilities will eliminate the need for buttons and displays because users can interact with devices in a natural way through voice. You can literally talk to the devices and instruct them to perform tasks or get responses. It also eliminates the need for smartphone apps that are used to control the device remotely over wireless networks. Now you can tell your walking robot to turn right or stop.

To transform the concept of AIY from an idea to an actual project, Google has teamed up with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to create a new hardware kit for Raspberry Pi called Voice Kit.

Rutledge wrote, "This project extends the functionality of the most popular single board computer used for digital making – the Raspberry Pi."

Voice Kit is a fully open source reference kit that is compatible with Raspberry Pi 3 Model B. It includes a HAT (Hardware Attached on Top) board comprising many hardware components, including a microphone for audio input, speakers for audio output, connectors, GPIO pins to connect low-voltage components like microservos and sensors, and an optional power supply port. It also comes with a cardboard box along the lines of the Google Cardboard VR project to package the kit.

Voice Kit is also compatible with Android Things, which allows developers to use the kit as a prototype for IoT products.

This is the first kit from Google, and the company plans to release more such kits in the future. If you are interested, you can sign up on the waiting list to buy the kit from Google [2]. You can also get involved with the project at HackerOne.io.

Raspberry Pi Zero W board

Celebrating the fifth anniversary of Raspberry Pi, the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced a new board: the Raspberry Pi Zero W. The "W" in the name indicates that the board is a variant of the inexpensive Raspberry Pi Zero board that includes Wireless LAN and Bluetooth – all for just $10.

Raspberry Pi Zero W uses the same Cypress CYW43438 wireless chip that is used in Raspberry Pi 3 Model B to provide 802.11n wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity.

The board is powered by a 1GHz, single-core CPU and comes with 512MB of RAM. It has a mini-HDMI port, micro-USB On-the-Go port, micro-USB power port, HAT-compatible 40-pin header, composite video, reset headers, and CSI camera connector.

Eben Upton, the founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, wrote in a blog post: "It makes a better general-purpose computer because you're less likely to need a hub: if you're using Bluetooth peripherals you might well end up with nothing at all plugged into the USB port. And of course it's a great platform for experimenting with IoT applications" [3].

Raspberry Pi Zero was first introduced in November 2015 at a price of $5. The board was so inexpensive that the Foundation stuck it on the front cover of The MagPi Magazine.

The board has become extremely popular, because the form factor allows for usage in an even wider range of devices because it lacks GPIO pins and bulky ports.

Enthusiasts are using it in projects like arcade cabinets and electric skateboards. With wireless capabilities, it will find usage in new projects.

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