If privacy worries surrounding smart speakers are a major concern for you – particularly if your kids are using this tech – then a Raspberry Pi-powered DIY effort by the name of Chatterbox might well be of interest.
It’s a Kickstarter billed as the “first DIY smart speaker that puts privacy first”, and as the appearance might suggest – with the big yellow button on top – this is aimed at kids, and pitched as an educational project which is dead easy to build.
Indeed, the idea is that children can build it themselves, and gain an understanding of what a smart speaker actually is underneath the hood, as opposed to just some magic black cylinder in the corner.
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The Chatterbox kit consists of a Raspberry Pi 3B+ with a ChatterVoice HAT and microphone, along with a speaker, the large button to go on top, and the case made of chipboard (strong cardboard). You also get an SD card which is pre-loaded with the operating system (ChatterOS).
The idea is kids can put together the speaker, and use the Chatterbox app to create new skills for the freshly-made digital assistant via a user-friendly system of modular blocks.
The makers promise: “Kids as young as 7 years old can learn to build unique skills to get the weather, ask questions, control lights, listen to music and make their own voice-based games.”
As mentioned, particularly because this is a product aimed at kids, the creators are stressing how they have made a major effort on the privacy front.
The device only listens when the wake button is pressed, and doesn’t “harvest or share any personal data”, or contain any advertising (the firm notes: “we strongly advocate for a commercial-free childhood”).
Currently, the Kickstarter project can be had for $109 (around £85, AU$160) with shipping to anywhere across the globe, and the estimated delivery date is December 2019.