Weird Science – build your own voice-controlled home automation Avatar

Weird Science – build your own voice-controlled home automation Avatar

Voice Controlled Home Automation - YouTubeLast week, we looked at how far home automation technology has come over the past decade, from using simple light-control devices like the Clapper, to incorporating voice recognition to automate your home. And for all of you forward-thinking DIY home automation geeks–you can take it even further and create a face for the voice.

In this video by Brian Baker, he introduces “Stephanie”, a physical interface or avatar, if you will, that he created to receive his voice commands. She’s an ongoing project  that currently controls various lights in Brian’s room, appliances, window blinds, etc. She also can read off the weather and bus times at the nearest intersection.


He basically took a mask from a hobby shop (Hobby Lobby), the geared DC motor out of a Billy Bass singing fish for the animatronics, and added circuitry. He also utilized Microsoft’s SAPI: an API that reads an XML file of your creation and listens for particular phrases listed in it. When it hears them, it notifies your program, and also does speech synthesis. Brian named his avatar Stephanie because the computerized voice sounds like the female version of famous astrophysicist Stephen Hawking.

Brian’s website gives a very detailed account of how he created Stephanie–and it didn’t hurt that his father is an electrician, FYI.

The video itself is surprisingly not high tech–but what Brian has done is fascinating.  Stephanie’s not quite Kelly LeBrock from Weird Science – but it’s just a matter of time before someone creates a more life-like version and we’ll have our own walking, talking avatars to respond on command.

What do you think of Stephanie? Useful or overkill? Leave me your thoughts below……

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