Inspired by the computer Orac, from the TV series Blakes 7.
A voice controlled computational slave.
Able to fetch data off the internet and read it out.
The finished article. Stained wood with electrolytic etched brass labels.
How it works
Voice recognition software is readily available and used for many purposes. Often used with a combination headset
and microphone, the electronics in Slave is an extension of this idea, with a radio link back to the computer.
Slave is actually a Panasonic cordless phone, repackaged into a wooden box with better microphone and speakers.
Software back on the laptop computer receives the sounds from the microphone in Slave, performs a sound to text conversion, executes the task and transmits the spoken result (using voice synthesis) back to the speakers in Slave.
Thus, the user can access computer functions from anywhere around the home, without so much as lifting a finger.
Tasks in the software are preprogrammed to look for keywords, and execute those taks accordingly.
Example 1: Weather.
User: Slave, what's the weather forecast?
On hearing the word 'weather', Slave will download a web page from the local meteorology service, extract the text for today and read it. Also able to use the word 'tomorrow' to understand to get the weather forecast for tomorrow.
Example 2: General knowledge
User: Tell me about Michael Jackson
User: Information on Michael Jackson
The spoken phrase 'tell me about' or 'information' sets a task to extract information from the online encyclopedia Dbpedia.
In the above example, the page accessed is HERE and the first paragraph is spoken.
Example 3/4/5: Other small functions.
Slave is able to give a status report, speak the time, and insult the operator, when requested.
Expansion of internet access is now limited only by imagination.
Obvious task to be added to Slave include the ability to fetch TV guides, news and sport information, movie information and reviews, on request.
As well as the requested items, Slave software has the ability to poll web pages at regular intervals and would be capable of providing warnings of TV programs of interest, bad weather, tsunami, geomagnetic storms and aurora watch warnings, or the arrival of email.
Keywords could be looked for in twitter 'popular topics' to warn the user that people around the world have just started discussing this topic.
The hardware inside Slave is that of a Panasonic KX-TG1311AL Cordless Phone.
The base unit has been modified to use not phone lines, but the audio from a computer, as is commonly performed by Skype users, discussed HERE. Also added are volume control and microphone sensitivity. The three lights at the top show power, a connection back to the base, and charging status of the onboard batteries. Because it is said that cordless phone batteries do not like being attached to the charger 24 hours a day, Slave is switchable to external power for normal use.
The small 'box' near the right is a microphone switch, activated by magnetic reed switch, and its removal very effectively controls Slaves ability to run voice commands (in a very similar way to the control key of Orac.
The brass 'engine plate' describes Slave as an AUDIODIAKON, taken from the old Greek word 'Diakon' meaning slave or servant.
Supplied by Airkraken Engineering, London.