Voice Controlled Smart Home

Petr Kovar
March 24, 2017 at 3:29 pm

Do you remember Iron Man’s personal assistant called J.A.R.V.I.S.? It is just a fictional technology from a superhero movie, and I am getting close with HomeVoice. HomeVoice is designed to become your personal voice controlled assistant whose primary task is to control and secure your smart home. You can switch the lights, ask for a broad range of values (temperature, humidity, light states, etc.), manage your smart home devices and also provide the HomeVoice with your feedback to make it even better.

Let’s start at the beginning. My name is Petr Kovar, and I study cybernetics and robotics at CTU in Prague. I came to eClub Prague more than a year ago to participate in the development of Household Intelligent Assistant called Phoenix. Under the supervision of Jan Sedivy I built-up sufficient know-how about speech recognition, natural language understanding, speech synthesis and bots in general. A few months later I turned to Jan Sedivy again for help with a specification of my master’s thesis.

As time went on, we decided to utilize the accumulated experience for the development of a voice controlled smart home. I started with the selection of smart home technology. I decided to use Z-Wave the leading wireless home control technology in the market. I have selected the Raspberry Pi as a controller. It runs the Raspbian equipped with Z-Wave module and Z-Way control software.

The main task was to monitor my house by voice using a mobile device. I decided to write an Android app called HomeVoice. The app turns any Android tablet or smartphone into a smart home remote control. It works both locally and over the internet (using remote access via find.z-wave.me). Whereas other Z-Way Android apps offer only one-way communication (tablet downloads data from the control unit on demand), HomeVoice receives the push notifications informing the user as soon as a control unit discovers an alarm or something urgent. Imagine that you are at work when suddenly a fire occurs in your home. HomeVoice informs you about it in less than 500 ms which gives you enough time to ensure appropriate rescure actions.

HomeVoice supports custom hot-word detection (similar to “Hey, Siri” or “Ok, Google”), transcribes speech to text, understands natural language and responds using synthesized speech. Many different technologies are used to achieve this behavior from CMUSphinx (hot-word detection), through SpeechRecognizer API and cloud service wit.ai (natural language understanding) to TextToSpeech API (speech synthesis). HomeVoice interconnects all these technologies into a complex app and adds its context processing and dialog management.

It is still quite far from Iron Man’s J.A.R.V.I.S., but I hope that someday HomeVoice will become the usefull smart home assistant.