Smart speakers are old news. If you really want to impress people with a question-answering smart home device, you’ll want to check out Peeqo, a new personal robot that’s just arrived on Kickstarter. As with devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo, Peeqo can respond to spoken word questions. The difference? It will respond to queries exclusively with a specially selected short video or GIF. Because, you know, it’s 2019 and nobody feels comfortable communicating the old-fashioned way anymore.
“I first started on this project when I didn’t know how to code and didn’t even know the difference between a Raspberry Pi and Arduino,” Abhishek Singh, Peeqo’s creator, told Digital Trends. “After becoming familiar with the basics, it eventually became part of my thesis [at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts’ Interactive Telecommunications Program]. After posting that build online, it instantly went viral, [making] it to the top of Reddit twice. I began getting hundreds of requests from people who wanted their very own Peeqo. After chatting with a bunch of them, it became clear that a DIY kit was the way to go.”
Peeqo’s kit offers everything you’ll need to build your very own version of the robot. According to Singh, no special tools are required, meaning that people without their own personal soldering iron can get in on the fun too. The 7-inch finished product boasts a 4-inch IPS display, dual omni-directional microphones, twin 3W speakers for stereo sound, 5MP camera, LED ring for notifications, and four programmable buttons. It’s powered by a Raspberry Pi 3B+ 64-bit quad-core processor, although this can be upgraded when Pi releases newer boards.
The robot’s voice detection works using Google Cloud Speech, Amazon Voice Services, Snips, and various open source alternatives including Jasper and Mycroft. An in-house voice service is also being developed.
Peeqo will continually scour the internet for the latest GIFs and response videos, meaning that you theoretically shouldn’t get the same old clip every time you ask the same question. It’s also possible to add your own custom responses. The result should be a gadget that won’t quickly become boring once the immediate novelty wears off.
As ever, we offer our usual warnings about the potential risks inherent in crowdfunding campaigns. However, if you’re fully aware of these and still want to take the leap, head over to Peeqo’s crowdfunding page to get in on the action. Prices for the full kit start at $189, although a cheaper $149 option is available if you’ve already got your own Raspberry Pi board to use. Shipping is planned to take place in September.