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January 24, 2018

Control this robot kit with your voice using Alexa or Google Assistant

by John_A

Who wouldn’t want their very own voice-controlled personal robot? Certainly not anyone that we would care to associate with or have on our Rolodexes, that’s for sure! Thanks to the kids’ programmable robotics kit Ziro, however, such a childhood dream is now a reality, courtesy of manufacturer ZeroUI’s newly announced smart assistant integration.

We first covered Ziro in 2016 when it first launched on Indiegogo. The modular kit allowed users, predominantly younger folks learning about robotics, to build a range of robot creations, spanning everything from simple trikes to fearsome robot dragons. These were controlled via gestures, thanks to a smart sensor-equipped glove. Gestures could be mapped to different robot movements using a mobile app.

Jump forward a couple years and the big new exciting way of interacting with technology is, of course, voice control, using smart artificial intelligence assistants like Amazon Echo or Google Home. That is what Ziro now offers, thereby allowing builders to create bots they can move with little more than a few spoken words. What could be better than that?

“Ziro’s hardware voice module is integrated with the Amazon’s Alexa Skills Kit and Amazon Web Services,” Raja Jasti, CEO of ZeroUI, told Digital Trends. “The system captures and converts the users’ spoken words to machine commands for Ziro robots that perform the actions. For example, you can say to your Alexa device, ‘Alexa, ask Zoe to move forward’ and Zoe — Ziro’s robot — will move forward. The intent detection from Alexa device happens on the cloud, whereas the relaying of the robot commands to Ziro motor modules happens on Ziro’s voice module.”

The new voice integration was shown off by the team at the recent CES 2018. At the show, Jasti and team used Alexa for their demonstration, although he says that they will also “support all the popular voice assistants on the market,” in addition to a stand-alone voice module for users without a voice assistant.

“We will make this available as part of Ziro 2.0, which will likely be released later this year,” he said. “We will provide all the information to the public on our website at the time of release.”

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