Google Upgrades AIY Project Kits
Written by Lucy Black   
Tuesday, 17 April 2018

This is as much about a statement that Google is still serious about its AI education efforts as it is about any new features. The two new kits are complete and ready to go. They take a sort of "batteries included" approach, although it is worth saying that no batteries are actually needed...

The two, so far, AIY Projects launched last year where quite a surprise. The Voice kit lets you build a voice controlled speaker, a bit like Alexa or Google Home and the Vision Kit uses a video camera to recognise people and objects. 




The original kits came with nearly everything you needed except for the Raspberry Pi that they are both based on and a Pi camera that the Vision Kit uses. While both extras were easy enough to get hold of, assuming you didn't already have them, or in some cases multiples of them, this seems to have been a barrier to getting started with the kits.

Well this seems to be what Google thinks anyway, because the new generation 2 kits come complete with a Raspberry Pi Zero WH - the Zero with WiFi and a set of header pins. The Vision kit also comes with the Pi camera you need. You also get the software on an SD card so you don't have to figure out how to "burn" Raspbian onto an SD card.

Spoon feeding or what!

Being serious, the repackaged two kits do look good enough to eat in a "cardboard" sort of way. And, if you don't know what I mean you have missed out on the strange obsession Google seems to have with cardboard.



According to the instructions all you will need extra is a screwdriver and a USB power supply. So despite my comment earlier batteries aren't quite included.

Will this improve their appeal?

Most definitely!  There is nothing more appealing than a complete kit that you can order and just get on with. There is just one temporary problem in that they are only available at Target Stores and in the US and the rest of the world will have to wait until Google sorts out distribution.

As if a complete kit wasn't enough of a simplification to hard pressed AIYers, there is also a companion app in the Play store that makes setting up the WiFi and configuration easier - iOS and Chrome versions to come. You can still do the same job using keyboard and monitor, however.

It is worth pointing out that the Raspberry Pi doesn't do the AI work in either kit - that's the job of the AI co-processor boards called Voice Botnet and Vision Botnet in the two kits. So you can't make a complete DIY equivalent - you have to have the Google supplied extras.

The documentation has also had an update on the website.

The Voice Kit is $49.99 and the Vision Kit is $89.99, which are both very reasonable prices that probably won't increase Googles profit margins by much.

Can't wait for the next AIY kit. Can I suggest that a completely intelligent search engine in a box would be good.



More Information

AIY Projects: Updated kits for 2018

AIY website

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 April 2018 )