Exploring Raspberry Pi 3 with Amazon Alexa – Voice Companion

With advent of iOT Portable devices there are endless possibilities to automate things surrounding you. Thought of getting in to this field of IOT with Raspberry Pi. The recent announcement with upgraded hardware tapped my interest to give a try on this cute powerful, inexpensive (INR. 3000) board. During this time, Amazon also released the GitHub guide to setup Alexa, the voice companion service for echo. Echo is a Voice command device from Amazon which is sold for $179. In this post i am going to share about my exploration and experience with Pi and Amazon Alexa.

Raspberry Pi :



The Raspberry Pi is a credit card–sized powerful and inexpensive computer developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation to promote the teaching of basic computer science in schools and developing countries. The first generation of RaspberryPi was released in the year 2012. The board supports USB 2.0, RJ45 Ethernet Port,HDMI Display and 3.5mm Audio jack. The earlier versions doesn’t have an Built-In WiFi 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.1. The recent version made this possible by embedding them on the board with Broadcom Chip. The device is powerful enough to run a full Linux OS and GPIO ports to talk to sensors and lights which can be controlled programmatically.

Operating System :

– The recommended OS for the raspberry pi from the Community is the Raspbian. which needs to be copied (.iso) to a microSD Card and that will be used to boot up the device.
– Raspbian can be downloaded from the downloads section of raspberrypi.org

Troubleshooting Notes :
– If you have any issues in booting up the device then please check you SD Card whether the raspbian .img files are properly copied. The traditional copy will not work. You need to use separate utility to create a bootable image to the SD Card.
– The Power LED with solid red and blinking ACT Green LED indicates a successful booting of the device.
– You don’t need a display or monitor. Just connect to ethernet and access the device using SSH.
– I used 2.1 A 5V YU powerbank to powerup the device. Please check with the voltage levels before connecting.

Alexa Voice Companion Service :

– To setup the voice companion service we need to install java libraries and node components. Amazon has provided java client source code which can built using maven and we can send the voice commands to the service through a node.js application.

– Instead of buying a new microphone, i assembled a new microphone for Rs.10 and connected them through a 3.5mm speaker pin to the USB Sound PnP device.


Few thing about Alexa Voice Performance :

– It can able to recognize the indian accent to some extent.
– The default weather question always responses for the Seattle location unless you specifically ask for a city
– I can able to ask Alexa to play the radio “Geetham Tamil Radio” from tunein.
– It responds most of the simple questions from Wiki with one liners.
– Able to connect to news source and streams the latest news. Currently Alexa unable to provide the news for a given location or city.

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