Raspberry Pi developers can now access Google’s AI – if they purchase the Voice HAT

Popular UK-based small computer manufacturer Raspberry Pi has launched a new accessory which provides developers with access to Google’s advanced AI.

Artificial intelligence has received a renewed focus over the past few years; primarily due to the emergence of the IoT. Just earlier today, Amazon announced plans for a UK expansion dedicated to AI and machine-learning which will see 400 “machine learning scientists, knowledge engineers, data scientists, mathematical modelers, speech scientists, and software engineers” being recruited to the company’s R&D centre in Cambridge.

With increasing competition also heating up from the likes of Microsoft, Baidu, and Apple, it’s clear the race to become a leader in AI is heating up. Today’s announcement offers a cheap method for the more than 12.5 million Raspberry Pi owners to get started with building smart devices which utilise Google’s AI.

The companies are calling their initiative 'Artificial Intelligence Yourself' (AIY) and will bring natural language processing to the Pi with a 'Voice HAT' (Hardware Accessory on Top) board and speaker.

Voice HAT will enable developers to interact with a Raspberry Pi 3 in a similar way to the Amazon Echo or Google Home. According to Russell Barnes, head of publishing at Raspberry Pi, it’s the first time Google has created a device which targets makers and hobbyists.

Initially, the only way to obtain the Voice HAT will be to purchase the latest edition of The Mag Pi – the official Raspberry Pi magazine – with which the accessory will be bundled for free along with information about how to set it up. The magazine itself costs £5.99 and will contain the HAT, a stereo microphone, speaker, and required cables.

While it seems the HAT will be exclusive to The Mag Pi magazine for a while, Raspberry Pi has said it may release the accessory separately in the future. Our guess would be the HAT will go on general sale sometime after the next release of The Mag Pi – at least that would be the most logical strategy to ensure other makers aren’t left out.

Do you plan on picking up the Voice HAT for the Raspberry Pi? Let us know in the comments.

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