Charles Marsh and Shubhro Saha are undergraduate students at Princeton University. They made an open source version of JARVIS called JASPER that runs on cheap off-the-shelf hardware.
Most of the development happened last summer. Marsh was interning at Microsoft in Seattle and Saha at an online advertising company called AppNexus in New York City. “Every night after work, we’d hold a Google Hangout to discuss design decisions, bugs, to-do’s, and everything else we needed to get done,” Marsh remembers.
All you need is a $35 Raspberry Pi, a USB microphone and a speaker. The Raspberry Pi boots from a common, ordinary SD card, and with a little scripting in Python you can use it to interface with Spotify, Facebook, Gmail, read knock knock jokes, play music, or your own existing Raspberry Pi projects. No, it’s not ready to go right off the shelf. But it’s darned close.
It’s always on, and since it’s running on a Raspberry Pi, it draws about as much power from the wall as a phone charger. You can speak from a few meters away, too, which makes it practical to use on a day to day basis. We could see Jasper integrated with wireless microphones and speakers to enable advanced voice control from anywhere in your home.
As you can hear in the inset video, its speech is a little mechanical. There’s probably a way to improve the quality of the speech at the cost of a little lag by using the undocumented Google Voice text to speech API. For example, here’s the Google speech api saying, “You’re listening to SCIFI.radio. It’s Sci-Fi for your Wifi!” in a clear woman’s voice, with a British accent. (Apparently a female voice is the only gender available.)
For now, Marsh says, he and Saha have no plans to build a business around the tool. “When we were planning out the Jasper vision, what we really saw was a platform for hackers: its beauty lay in its extensibility,” he explains. “Nothing excited us more than to see what other programmers could do with the device.” The spirit of collaboration is what makes open source shine, and thanks to Marsh and Saha there’s a great new idea to play with that actually works.
What will you make it do?
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- The JASPER Web Site
- Google’s undocumented speech API
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