Project Alias

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About: I am creative technologist at Tellart, living in Amsterdam

Alias is a teachable “parasite” that is designed to give users more control over their smart assistants, both when it comes to customisation and privacy. Through a simple app the user can train Alias to react on a custom wake-word/sound, and once trained, Alias can take control over your home assistant by activating it for you.

In this instructions, we will walk you through the main steps to complete your own Alias and start training a new wake-up-word for your smart device.

Step 1: Requirements and Materials

The main components used in this build are:

Tools needed for this project are:

  • Access to a 3d printer
  • Soldering iron
  • Wire stripper
  • Screwdriver
  • A way to flash a micro SD card on your computer

Note: this project has only been tested with these components, but if you are confident with making, parts can be changed for others.

Step 2: 3D Printing the Shell

For this step, we will be 3D printing the shell

For now, we have provided 2 options:

  • Google Home (original)
  • Amazon Echo

1. Print the shell and speaker holder in any color on a 3D printer. Because of the mesh in the object, it is important to keep the support material at a minimal. We had the best result printing it on its back-side. (See picture)

2. Use sandpaper to give the shell a nice and smooth surface. (optionally give it an acetone bath)

Step 3: Wiring and Assembly

Before assembling the Alias we need to connect the speakers to the ReSpeaker audio shield and a power supply to the Raspberry Pi.

1. The speaker wires are stripped and soldered on to a JST 2.0 connector or an old Jack cable. The speakers and wires snap into the 3D printed speaker holder. (See picture above).
Note: We have found that the wires could trigger the Google Home when placed in the center. So for a better result on a Google Home try to route the wires down the sides.

2. Next, we need to supply 5V to the Raspberry Pi. Since there is not much space inside the shell, we decided to solder the 5V and Ground to the GPIO pins directly. You could try with an angled or modified micro USB cable. There is a small dent in the shell to route the wire out. Depending on your wire some fitting may be required.

3. Mount the speaker holder and Raspberry Pi to the shield with 4 small wood screws. (Tighten gently to prevent the 3D print to crack)

4. Place the assembled Alias on your device. If the fit is not smooth give the inside edge some sandpaper. It's important to align the speakers with the microphones of your device.

Step 4: Software

In this step, we will be adding the software to the Raspberry Pi.

Please follow the steps on the projects GitHub page.

The code is set to be used with a Google Home from default. If you plan to use it on an Amazon Echo please change line 21 in app.py to use the alexa.wav file.

Amazon: sound.audioPlayer("data/alexa.wav",0,"wakeup", False)

Google Home: sound.audioPlayer("data/google_home.wav",0,"wakeup", False)

Step 5: Train and Calibrate

In this step, we will train Alias with a custom wake-up word.

1. To train Alias, use the browser on your phone and open raspberrypi.local:5050

2. Hold down the record button while saying the new name about 4-6 times. A small bar should indicate the 2 seconds recording window. Each name should fit within this timeframe.

3. Under the menu, click Train Alias and wait a few seconds for the model to learn the name. This name does not necessarily need to be a word but can be a sound and any language. So be creative! You can always reset your name on the menu. Tip: it helps to record the name from different locations in your home.

4. Try it out! Say the name and ask your question once you see a blue light on the device or on your phone.
Note: once trained there is no need to have the phone connected anymore.

If you find Alias is not responding correctly, try to train a few more examples. Or if you find Alias is triggering to often, you can go to the menu and turn background sound ON. This toggles the background mode and adds any new recordings to the background examples. Record and train just as before, but try to capture unique sounds in your environment or even words that sound similar to your chosen name.

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    55 Discussions

    0
    None
    JustinSysperto

    Question 13 hours ago

    I have now spent countless hours trying to figure out why it's not working for me.
    First the sudo pip3 install tensorflow keras command doesn't work.
    I worked around this by installing tensorflow 1.8.0 manual from lhe lontra on github (newest version could not download) and installing keras seperatly.
    Now I did everything else the same, but I cannot find raspberrypi.local:5050 on my phones browser or anywhere else. Does someone have an Idea?

    0
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    Rivale

    11 days ago

    When I do this step:

    pi@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo pip3 install tensorflow keras

    I get this:

    Collecting tensorflow
    Downloading https://www.piwheels.org/simple/tensorflow/tensor... none-linux_armv7l.whl (82.2MB)
    99% |████████████████████████████████| 82.2MB 3.8MB/s eta 0:00:01Exception:
    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File "/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/pip/basecommand.py", line 215, in main
    status = self.run(options, args)
    File "/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/pip/commands/install.py", line 353, in ru n
    wb.build(autobuilding=True)
    File "/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/pip/wheel.py", line 749, in build
    self.requirement_set.prepare_files(self.finder)
    File "/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/pip/req/req_set.py", line 380, in prepare _files
    ignore_dependencies=self.ignore_dependencies))
    File "/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/pip/req/req_set.py", line 620, in _prepar e_file
    session=self.session, hashes=hashes)
    File "/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/pip/download.py", line 821, in unpack_url
    hashes=hashes
    File "/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/pip/download.py", line 659, in unpack_htt p_url
    hashes)
    File "/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/pip/download.py", line 882, in _download_ http_url
    _download_url(resp, link, content_file, hashes)
    File "/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/pip/download.py", line 603, in _download_ url
    hashes.check_against_chunks(downloaded_chunks)
    File "/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/pip/utils/hashes.py", line 46, in check_a gainst_chunks
    for chunk in chunks:
    File "/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/pip/download.py", line 571, in written_ch unks
    for chunk in chunks:
    File "/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/pip/utils/ui.py", line 139, in iter
    for x in it:
    File "/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/pip/download.py", line 560, in resp_read
    decode_content=False):
    File "/usr/share/python-wheels/urllib3-1.19.1-py2.py3-none-any.whl/urllib3/res ponse.py", line 432, in stream
    data = self.read(amt=amt, decode_content=decode_content)
    File "/usr/share/python-wheels/urllib3-1.19.1-py2.py3-none-any.whl/urllib3/res ponse.py", line 380, in read
    data = self._fp.read(amt)
    File "/usr/share/python-wheels/CacheControl-0.11.7-py2.py3-none-any.whl/cachec ontrol/filewrapper.py", line 63, in read
    self._close()
    File "/usr/share/python-wheels/CacheControl-0.11.7-py2.py3-none-any.whl/cachec ontrol/filewrapper.py", line 50, in _close
    self.__callback(self.__buf.getvalue())
    File "/usr/share/python-wheels/CacheControl-0.11.7-py2.py3-none-any.whl/cachec ontrol/controller.py", line 275, in cache_response
    self.serializer.dumps(request, response, body=body),
    File "/usr/share/python-wheels/CacheControl-0.11.7-py2.py3-none-any.whl/cachec ontrol/serialize.py", line 86, in dumps
    data, separators=(",", ":"), sort_keys=True,
    File "/usr/lib/python3.5/json/__init__.py", line 237, in dumps
    **kw).encode(obj)
    File "/usr/lib/python3.5/json/encoder.py", line 198, in encode
    chunks = self.iterencode(o, _one_shot=True)
    File "/usr/lib/python3.5/json/encoder.py", line 256, in iterencode
    return _iterencode(o, 0)
    MemoryError

    What's going wrong?

    I just followed the steps.. but now I'm stuck...

    Please help....

    1 reply
    0
    None
    RivaleRivale

    Reply 2 days ago

    I found out myself.. memory error..
    I installed it without cache:

    installing without caching:
    pip install --no-cache-dir tensorflow

    if you don't use --no-cache-dir, pip stores the installation files for future use. --no-cache-dir skips that step.

    0
    None
    steviebevie

    4 weeks ago

    Great idea! I've tried to get it printed by an online 3d printing company. However, they claim that the base beneath the speaker holder is too thin, so they won't print it. Is there any software that I might use to edit the stl file by making the whole bottom layer of the speaker holder a bit thicker?

    5 replies
    0
    None
    shibadadsteviebevie

    Reply 23 days ago

    I used Repetier to flip the main piece(as shown in this article), adding a brim, then lay the speaker hold flat instead of standing up, and all is well.

    0
    None
    hong3shibadad

    Reply 4 days ago

    Did you print with support or just brim?

    1
    None
    ychselsteviebevie

    Reply 22 days ago

    I printed the Alexa cover at 3D hubs. They had no problems printing it. It just doesn't fit in an echo dot. I don't know the big echo but maybe it is smaller. That was my fault of course but @BjørnKarmann. Maybe you can add a version for the dot as well. Thanks for sharing your project. I did not assemble everyhting yet. Beeing a bit more precise on where you soldered the power supply would be helpfull. I think a simple hole for a micro USB cable plug in the case woudl be the best.

    0
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    steviebeviesteviebevie

    Reply 24 days ago

    FYI
    I heightened the base of the speaker holder just a little bit in the Meshmixer app and the 3d printing company happily accepted it. I'll keep you updated on the process.

    0
    None
    TerryT73

    Question 14 days ago on Introduction

    Is there any way to get a straightened / level version of the speaker holder? It is tilted and up-right, impossible with my software to get it level onto the printer...

    1 answer
    0
    None
    RandyR86

    Question 10 days ago on Introduction

    I don't have the tools or expertise to build one of these, anyone out there willing to build and sell one to me? Google's to damn stubborn and caught up in it's own ego to let people pick their own hotword, I knew it would be just a matter of time before someone came up with a solution...Thanks / Randy

    0
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    RobT44

    Question 4 weeks ago

    Does this actually cancel out the speaker from listening to you in your house or just the wake up command.

    1 answer
    0
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    epenakRobT44

    Answer 14 days ago

    The speakers have a little adhesive around the outside diameter. Each one is placed over a microphone hole. The mic supposedly can then only 'hear' what that speaker delivers. You need to insure that your speaker completely covers the little hole. So the device mic is always active, but receives only what the speaker delivers.

    0
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    ychselOlivierR29

    Reply 22 days ago

    Doesn't the speakers have to be on the opposite of the mic for our pupose? Otherwise the mic gets the white noise?

    0
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    OlivierR29ychsel

    Reply 21 days ago

    Not necessarily, because you are not playing the message and recording at the same time.

    0
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    xyzzy2015

    Question 4 weeks ago on Step 5

    Has anyone used a service that 3D prints projects? I don’t have anyplace in my area nor do I have a printer.

    1 answer
    0
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    ychselxyzzy2015

    Answer 22 days ago

    I printed it with 3D HUB service