Imagine having an Echo (Amazon’s voice-activated home automation device) controlling every device in your home. That’s the idea behind Seeed’s latest endeavor, the ReSpeaker. The ReSpeaker adds voice recognition/interaction to everything from speakers and home appliances to IoT devices. What’s more, the device was designed using open-source hardware and can even be uploaded with your voice service of choice, including Amazon’s Alexa, Google Speech API and Microsoft’s Cognitive Service (among a host of others.)

The tiny round PCB comes packed with some impressive hardware for any number of voice interaction projects, which includes an ATmega32u4 microcontroller along with a MT7688 Wi-Fi module, onboard analog microphone and SD card slot for external storage. Additionally, the ReSpeaker features a 3.5mm AUX out jack, micro USB port and two 8-pin headers. Those headers can be used to connect any number of other boards for additional functionality such as Seeed’s Wio Link module (Wi-Fi for IoT projects), Wio Node (smaller Wi-Fi module) and Wio Link (ESP8266-based dev board).

For those who want more than what the onboard microphone offers, Seeed has also developed a sensitive microphone array that can recognize a voice from across a room even while music is playing. Known as the Mic Array, the board is outfitted with seven PDM digital microphones that are controlled by an XMOS XVSM-2000 DSP module, which can programmed to react to certain voice commands to initiate interaction.

Seeed’s ReSpeaker can also be connected to a Grove platform board, which allows for quick connecting the company’s popular Modules or sensor boards, giving the ReSpeaker Core board with yet even more functionality. Temperature, motion, light and even gas sensors are just a few of the modules that can be incorporated. The Grove board also features I2S, I2C, AUX, USB 2.0, GPIOs (and several more interfaces) that provide users additional project options if the need arises. Oh boy, GPIO? I feel a mad-rush of inspiration.

Seeed’s ReSpeaker (along with the Mic Array and Grove board) has been funded on Kickstarter, nearing $200,000 of their $40,000 goal, and can be had for $49, which nets you the Core board with and 8GB SD card. It just so happens that Amazon launched the 2nd generation of their Echo Dot product today, a smaller version of their Amazon Echo product, for $49. While the Echo Dot uses Amazon’s Alexa voice activation technology to control home automation devices, access apps and ask questions, the ReSpeaker is open-source and maintains the ability to expand, hack, customize and integrate with just about any device you have.

Which are you buying? Alexa, add a ReSpeaker to my shopping list. “ReSpeaker, added.”

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