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Guenter Villnow
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The Wi-DG enables voice control of any supported miniDSP hardware! You need an Amazon Echo for this to work. Setup takes only a few minutes, then you can instruct the miniDSP with basic voice commands.

Use Amazon Alexa and Echo for voice control of a miniDSP

Contents

What you need[Top]

See the diagram below for the way this is set up. You will need:

  1. A supported miniDSP hardware unit, and the appropriate plugin running on your computer. See the list of supported hardware/plugins on the Wi-DG product page.

  2. A miniDSP Wi-DG. This tiny box enables the miniDSP hardware to be controlled over the network, and "knows how to talk to" Amazon Alexa.

  3. An Amazon Echo. For this app note, we used the cheapest member of the family, the Amazon Echo Dot, which works just fine. However, you can use any other member of Echo family if you have one.

Follow the instructions in the Wi-DG User Manual to set it up. Important: you need to be using your Wi-DG in Station Mode. Connect things up as shown in the diagram below. If you haven't already, use the plugin to make sure that the Wi-DG and hardware unit are set up and working properly.

Diagram for voice control of a miniDSP with Amazon Alexa

Set up your Echo[Top]

(If you have already set up your Echo and have it running on your network, you can skip this section. Note that the Echo and the Wi-DG must be on the same network.)

Go to alexa.amazon.com and log in with your Amazon account. You can then start the setup process for your new Echo:

Getting started with setting up your Echo

Click "Begin Setup" and walk through the process of joining your Echo to your Wi-fi network. The setup process is similar to the way you set up the Wi-DG: join the network that the Echo creates, select your home network, and enter its password. Make sure you join the Echo to the same network that your Wi-DG is on.

After the Echo restarts, it will no longer create its own Wi-Fi network. Your computer may automatically rejoin your home network; if not, use your computer's Wi-Fi settings to rejoin that network.

Install the miniDSP skill[Top]

Reload alexa.amazon.com in your web browser. At the menu on the left, click on "Skills." Enter "minidsp" in the search box and press the Enter key. You should get:

Install the miniDSP skill into your Echo

Click on the miniDSP Controller and then click the Enable button.

Enable the miniDSP skill

Now open another browser window tab or go to http://minidsp-wi-dg.local/alexa. There is a four-digit code:

Get your miniDSP Alexa link key

Follow the instruction there and tell Alexa the link key, by saying aloud "Alexa, tell miniDSP my link key is zero eight four nine" (but using your own link key). The screen will change:

Successful link with Alexa

Speak![Top]

And that's it! Now you can control the miniDSP with voice commands. The set of commands is basically the same as you can do with the remote:

  1. Alexa, tell mini d. s. p. to mute the device
  2. Alexa, tell mini d. s. p. to unmute the device
  3. Alexa, tell mini d. s. p. to turn the volume up
  4. Alexa, tell mini d. s. p. to turn the volume down
  5. Alexa, tell mini d. s. p. to set preset X [where X is a number from 1 to 4]

Wrapping up[Top]

That's it for this app note! Have fun, and please let us know what you think of the miniDSP Alexa skill in our forum.


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The miniDSP UMA-8 microphone array, with onboard direction detection, echo cancellation, and noise reduction, has a wide variety of applications. In this app note we'll run through its use with Google Assistant and a Raspberry Pi.

This app note is based on this article published by Google. You will need to follow that article closely.

google assistant uma8

Why use the UMA-8?[Top]

In Google's hardware setup page, it's suggested that a cheap USB microphone be used. (The Raspberry Pi does not have an inbuilt microphone.) This is not an optimum solution. Instead:

  • The UMA-8 has beam-forming running across the 7 microphones, which improves voice detection.

  • The UMA-8 also has echo cancellation and noise reduction, to reduce the effects of non-voice sounds (like music playing) and noise (traffic, kitchen noises etc).

1. Getting connected[Top]

Connect your Raspberry Pi to a keyboard, mouse, and an HDMI monitor or TV. Plug the UMA-8 into one of the USB ports. (It is powered over USB).

(Google's hardware setup page provides a number of different setup methods, including "headless." For simplicity we suggest starting with a connected monitor, keyboard and mouse. Later on you can try a headless version.)

Install Raspbian onto a micro-SD card and insert it into the Pi. The Google page linked above suggests using NOOBS. We just downloaded Raspbian Stretch with Desktop and burnt it onto an SD card.

Power on the Raspberry Pi. After a short time you should see a desktop appear on your monitor. Click on the Raspbian icon at the top left, select Preferences then Raspberry Pi Configuration. Set your timezone on the Localization tab. You may at this time also wish to enable SSH.

You may like to explore a little further. If you are using a Raspberry Pi 3 with inbuilt Wifi, use the Settings (top right of screen) to join your wireless network. You may also want to change your keyboard layout to U.S., as it defaults to a U.K. layout.

2. Setting up audio[Top]

We connected our Raspberry Pi to the second input of a nanoAVR HD so the audio output from the Pi goes through a home theater system with room EQ. We bet Google Assistant never sounded so good :)

Photograph of UMA-8, Raspberry Pi, and nanoAVR HDA

The instructions on the Google page Configure and Test the Audio aren't quite in the right order. You will need to open a terminal on the Pi to do this. First, list your output audio devices by typing

  alist -l

Here is our output. Note that the HDMI output is card 0 and device 0:

**** List of PLAYBACK Hardware Devices ****
card 0: ALSA [bcm2835 ALSA], device 0: bcm2835 ALSA [bcm2835 ALSA]
  Subdevices: 8/8
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
  Subdevice #1: subdevice #1
  Subdevice #2: subdevice #2
  Subdevice #3: subdevice #3
  Subdevice #4: subdevice #4
  Subdevice #5: subdevice #5
  Subdevice #6: subdevice #6
  Subdevice #7: subdevice #7
card 0: ALSA [bcm2835 ALSA], device 1: bcm2835 ALSA [bcm2835 IEC958/HDMI]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 1: UAC20 [miniDSP micArray XVSM UAC2.0], device 0: USB Audio [USB Audio]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0

Now list your input audio devices by typing

  arecord -l

Here is our output. Note that the UMA-8 output is card 1 and device 0:

**** List of CAPTURE Hardware Devices ****
card 1: UAC20 [miniDSP micArray XVSM UAC2.0], device 0: USB Audio [USB Audio]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0

Now you will need to edit the file .asoundrc in your home directory /home/pi so that it looks like this (note that the card and device number for pcm.mic and pcm.speaker are as detected by the above commands):

pcm.!default {
  type asym
  capture.pcm "mic"
  playback.pcm "speaker"
}
pcm.mic {
  type plug
  slave {
    pcm "hw:1,0"
  }
}
pcm.speaker {
  type plug
  slave {
    pcm "hw:0,0"
  }
}

To test that the UMA-8 is working, enter this and then speak aloud near the UMA-8:

  arecord --format=S16_LE --duration=5 --rate=16000 --file-type=raw out.raw

To play the file back, enter this:

  aplay --format=S16_LE --rate=16000 out.raw

3. Setting up Google Assistant[Top]

You will now need to Configure a Developer Project and Account Settings. (Follow the instructions on that page. There are a lot of steps, so take your time and make sure you get everything done. Also, you might want to create a separate Google account for this purpose using e.g. a new gmail address.)

Now it's time to install the application. Follow the instructions on the Download the Library and Run the Sample page.

4. Running[Top]

Now you can start the sample application (finally!). In a terminal window, enter

  google-assistant-demo

Then say "Hey Google" followed by a question, like this: "Hey Google, where am I?" or "OK Google, what is my name?".

Wrapping up[Top]

That's it for this app note! Have fun, and please let us know about your UMA-8 and Raspberry Pi with Google Assistant experience in our forum.


 

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The miniDSP UMA-8 microphone array, with onboard direction detection, echo cancellation, and noise reduction, has a wide variety of applications. In this app note we'll run through its use with Cortana, the "intelligent virtual assistants" from Microsoft.

Why use the UMA-8?[Top]

By default, Microsoft Cortana uses the inbuilt microphone in your computer. This is fine if you are sitting at the computer, but for use of these programs as a "far field" hands-free assistant a more sophisticated microphone is needed. The UMA-8 has:

  • Beam-forming running across an array of 7 microphones to improve voice detection and eliminate extraneous noises.

  • Echo cancellation and noise reduction to reduce the effects of non-voice sounds (like music playing) and noise (traffic, kitchen noises etc).

The UMA-8 is "plug and play" – you do not have to configure anything to make it work with Cortana. If you wish, however, you can use the miniDSP plugin to tweak the processing parameters of the microphone array (recommended for advanced users only!)

 

Using the UMA-8 with Cortana[Top]

Plug the supplied USB cable into the micro-USB port on the UMA-8, and plug the other end into a spare USB port on your Windows 10 computer. Open the Control Panel and go to Manage Audio Devices. Select the Recording tab and set the miniDSP micArray as the default device:

Selecting the UMA-8 microphone array for Cortana

To enable Cortana to respond to hands-free voice commands ("Hey Cortana") on Windows 10, you will need to enable it. This is described in this article on c-net:

And that's it! You should now be able to say "Hey Cortana" from anywhere in the room to activate it. Check out Microsoft's help page for more details on how Cortana can help you.

cortana win10

 

Wrapping up[Top]

That's it for this app note! Have fun, and please let us know about your UMA-8 and Cortana experience in our forum.


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The miniDSP UMA-8 microphone array, with onboard direction detection, echo cancellation, and noise reduction, has a wide variety of applications. As a fun application, we wanted to build an app note on how to control light. Think of Philips HUE but DIY and built from scratch with your RPi, a UMA-8, a low cost landtern. Most importantly, we also provide a default starting code and IBM watson step by step instructions to setup your environment. What else could ask for?

 "Let there be light!"

So enough wiht the talking, let's get started looking at clear step by step instructions posted on instructables website. 

instructable logo

Some pics of the assembly process 

DIY lantern

 

alexa diy lanter

and a bit of IBM Watson configuration

watson configuration uma8

Wrapping up

[Top]

That's it for this app note! Have fun, and please let us know about your UMA-8 experience in our forum.


 

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The miniDSP UMA-8 microphone array, with onboard direction detection, echo cancellation, and noise reduction, has a wide variety of applications. In this app note we'll run through its use with Siri, the "intelligent virtual assistant" from Apple loaded on OSx.

Note: this app note applies only to desktops and laptops running MacOS. The UMA-8 typically requires more power than can be supplied by phones and tablets.

Why use the UMA-8?[Top]

By default, Siri would use the inbuilt microphone in your computer. This is fine if you are sitting at the computer, but for use of these programs as a "far field" hands-free assistant a more sophisticated microphone is needed. The UMA-8 has:

  • Beam-forming running across an array of 7 microphones to improve voice detection and eliminate extraneous noises.

  • Echo cancellation and noise reduction to reduce the effects of non-voice sounds (like music playing) and noise (traffic, kitchen noises etc).

The UMA-8 is "plug and play" – you do not have to configure anything to make it work with Siri. If you wish, however, you can use the miniDSP plugin to tweak the processing parameters of the microphone array (recommended for advanced users only!)

Using the UMA-8 with Siri[Top]

Plug the supplied USB cable into the micro-USB port on the UMA-8, and plug the other end into a spare USB port on your Mac. Open System Preferences and then Sound, and select the miniDSP micArray as the input source:

Selecting the UMA-8 microphone array for Siri

To enable Siri to respond to hands-free voice commands ("Hey Siri") on the Mac, you will need to a. set up a keyboard shortcut and b. map the keyboard shortcut to a voice command. This is described in this article on MacWorld:

And that's it! You should now be able to say "Hey Siri" from anywhere in the room to activate it. Check out the section Apple's help page for more details on Siri.

macos sierra siri waveform

Wrapping up[Top]

That's it for this app note! Have fun, and please let us know about your UMA-8 and Siri experience in our forum.