Raspberry Pi and Docker are used alongside an Echo Dot with Amazon Alexa to create a voice-controlled Christmas tree
Amazon Alexa is big news to the hacker community, thanks to deep integration with IoT (Internet of Things) projects. This approach makes it easy to hook up cheap hardware, such an Amazon Echo with Raspberry Pi and voice control household items.
And what could be more fun to voice control than your Christmas tree? That’s what this Echo Dot Christmas Tree project achieves.
“The Echo Dot is sending messages to an MQTT broker,” says maker Alex Ellis. “My Raspberry Pi runs a Docker Python image and listens to the messages then sets the NeoPixel strip up as desired.”
The project uses an Amazon Echo Dot to listen to commands. Behind the scenes, a AWS Lambda function is used to create a “skill”. Amazon skills are code that enables users to control devices.
“The Alexa Skills Kit is a collection of self-service APIs, tools, documentation and code samples that make it fast and easy for you to add skills to Alexa. You can also use the Smart Home Skill API, a new addition to the Alexa Skills Kit, to easily teach Alexa how to control your cloud-controlled lighting and thermostat devices. All of the code runs in the cloud, and nothing is on any user device,” reads Amazon’s Developer portal.
The Echo Dot is hooked up to a Raspberry Pi, which controls the NeoPixel strip (wrapped around the Christmas tree).
The result is a voice-controlled Christmas tree. In the video, you can hear Alex say “ask the Christmas Tree to set the lights to blue.” The lights change colour accordingly. The brightness and colour of the lights can be changed, and the lights can be turned off.
It’s a great Christmassy project. More importantly, it looks like a good introduction to creating voice controlled household devices.