Google’s new kit uses Raspberry Pi to bring image recognition to your project

Raspberry Pi
Google said on Thursday, November 30 that it released a new AIY Vision do-it-yourself kit based on the Raspberry Pi Zero W board. The kit follows Google’s recent AIY Voice Kit for DIY voice recognition, and provides means for your project to include image recognition without the need for a connection to the cloud. That ability stems from the kit’s vision processing unit, which is capable of running local neural network models.

According to Google, the kit includes software supporting three separate neural network models. One model can detect people, cats, and dogs while another specializes in faces and their expressions. The third model is capable of recognizing “a thousand common objects.” You can even train and retrain your own neural network models using a TensorFlow-based tool built into the software.

“We also provide a Python API that gives you the ability to change the RGB button colors, adjust the piezo element sounds and access the four GPIO pins,” Google said.

At the heart of the kit’s design is the $10 Raspberry Pi Zero W board. It’s a self-contained computer consisting of a single-core processor, 512MB of memory, Wireless N and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity, and several connectors. The kit’s included “VisionBonnet” accessory board packing Intel’s Movidius MA2450 vision processing chip connects to the Raspberry Pi’s CSI camera connector via a flex cable.

The assembly instructions show that these two boards are sandwiched together via the Raspberry Pi’s 40-pin header, and secured in place using plastic standoffs. Meanwhile, the $30 Raspberry Pi Camera 2 plugs into a special slot on the kit’s inner cardboard frame, and then plugs into the CSI camera connector on the VisionBonnet board via a flex cable. Eventually, the base device is enclosed in an additional cardboard shell containing an LED, camera lens, and tripod mount.

Right now, you can pre-order the kit only through Micro Center for $45, but it won’t become available until December 31. The drawback is that Google’s kit does not include the Raspberry Pi Zero W board, the Raspberry Pi Camera 2, or the required blank Micro SD card. Note that this card needs at least 4GB to store the downloadable software required for the device to work, and you’ll also need a utility to install the software onto the card.

Ultimately, the complete image-recognition device for your project will set you back around $85. Add Google’s AIY voice kit, and your project will have the ability to recognize people, animals, objects, and voices. But that’s another $25 just for the kit, which doesn’t include the required $35 Raspberry Pi 3 board, or the SD card needed to store the operating system and voice-recognition software.

So what can you do with image recognition? Google lists a few examples, such as detecting when your dog approaches the back door, sounding an alarm when a sibling creeps into your room, and witnessing the reactions of your neighbors when they view your Griswold-style holiday decorations. The kit sounds like fun if you’re willing to shell out an additional $85 for your project.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robots that eat landmines and clean your floors

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Smart Home

Amazon Echo Show and Google Home Hub get huge price cuts

If you act today you can get an amazing deal on the first-gen Amazon Echo Show on Woot or the current generation Google Home Hub on Rakuten. The Echo Show works with Alexa and the Google Home Hub with Google Assistant.
Smart Home

Best Buy zaps price on Nest Secure alarm, Nest Cam, and Google Home Mini bundle

Best Buy zapped the price of Nest smart home security Nest Secure Alarm and Nest Cam Outdoor bundle and added a Google Home Mini. Nest Detect sensors watch your home inside and out. Stream Nest Cam video in real-time or view clips later.

The Pixel 3 range will soon be coming to T-Mobile's network

Google's latest flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, are now official and we have all the details from the October 9 event in New York City and Paris. Here's everything we know about the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.

Gaming on a laptop has never been better. These are your best options

Gaming desktops are powerful, but they tie you down to your desk. For those of us who prefer a more mobile experience, here are the best gaming laptops on the market, ranging from budget machines to maxed-out, wallet-emptying PCs.

Here's how you can download the best free music players for your Mac

Tired of your Mac's default music player? Take a look at our picks for the best free music players available for your Apple rig. Whether you're a casual listener or an audiophile, you're sure to find something that fits your needs here.

AMD’s 2020 Ryzen CPUs could have a big boost in power efficiency

The sequel to AMD's Zen 2-based Ryzen 3000 CPUs is slated for a 2020 release and when it arrives, could leverage the new Zen 3 architecture to deliver impressive gains to performance and power efficiency.

Want to make calls across the internet for less? Try these great VOIP services

Voice over IP services are getting more and more popular, but there are still a few that stand above the pack. In this guide, we'll give you a few options for the best VOIP services for home and business users.

Transform into the ultimate leader with our tips and tricks for Civilization 6

Civilization VI offers both series veterans and total newcomers a lot to chew on from the get-go. Here are some essential starting tips to help you master the game's many intricacies.

The iPhone’s Screen Time and Siri Shortcuts could land on Macs this year

For its desktop computers, it appears that Apple may continue to draw from the iPhone for inspiration. iOS 12 features, like Screen Time and Siri Shortcuts, are believed to be making their way to MacOS this year at WWDC in June.

Dell slashes prices of XPS 13 and Alienware 17 laptops in latest promo

Dell's latest promotion will score you big savings on the XPS 13 or the Alienware 17. The stylish XPS 13's discount is for $430, and only the rose gold model is on sale, while gamers who choose the Alienware 17 will save $860.

Lenovo’s Yoga C930 sale drops a $650 discount on its 2TB SSD laptop

Lenovo is offering one of its 2-in-1 laptops at a $650 discount. This Lenovo Yoga C930 laptop comes with a 2TB solid-state drive, a digital pen, a fingerprint reader, and a Dolby Atmos sound bar.

You won't want to miss these deals on some of the best laptops around

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some post-holiday shopping, we have you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.

The best Amazon Prime Day 2019 deals: Everything you need to know

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is still a few months off, but it's never too early to start preparing. We've been taking a look at the best discounts from previous Prime Days to give you our predictions of what to expect this year.