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Orange Pi Development Boards

Amlogic A113X1 6-Mic Far-Field Devkit is Designed for Amazon Alexa

January 11th, 2018 2 comments

Allwinner unveiled their SoC-Only 3-Mic Far-Field Development Kit for Amazon AVS last week, but they are now joined by another low cost silicon vendor as Amlogic has just launched their own A113X1 far-field dev kit officially support for Amazon Alexa Voice Service (AVS).

The development kit is powered by Amlogic A113X SoC designed for such applications with “an audio pipeline that supports high fidelity audio with soft DSP algorithms for both frontend and backend processing”.

 

Amlogic A113X1 far-field devkit specifications:

  • Mainboard
    • SoC – Amlogic A113X quad core Cortex A53 processor
    • System Memory – 512MB DDR3
    • Storage – 512 MB NAND flash
    • Connectivity – SDIO WiFi/BT (AP6356S)
    • Audio
      • SPDIF_IN jack
      • LINE_IN/LINE_OUT jacks
      • 2x Audio headers (MIC_Connector & SPK_Connector)
    • USB – 1x micro USB 2.0 OTG port
    • Expansion – SPI header
    • Misc – 6x ADC Keys, IR_IN/IR_OUT, UART Interface (RS232), LEDs
    • Power Supply – 12V/2A
  • Microphone board
    • 6x digital microphones in a circular array
    • Texas Instruments PCA9557PWR IO expander
  • Speaker board
    • Texas Instruments TAS5707PHPR 20-W Open-Loop Stereo Digital Input Class-D Audio Amplifier with Speaker EQ and DRC
    • Power Supply – 12V DC barrel jack

The solution is said to run “high-performance DSP algorithms for acoustic echo cancellation, beamforming, and noise reduction”.

 

Beside the three boards of the kit (main, speaker, and microphone), you’ll also get a power supply, a serial debug adapter, and a pair of generic speakers. You’ll find more documentation, a getting started guide (with a Linux 4.9 buildroot based distribution), and a purchase link for the $250 kit on a dedicated Amazon Developer page. The kit is currently demonstrated at the Amlogic suite in the Venetian (Suite #34311) during CES 2018.

We’ll also find the kit in company of the aforementioned $129 Allwinner Amazon AVS kit, a new $1,250 “Qualcomm Smart Audio 6-Mic Development Kit for Amazon AVS”, and as well as the $299 hands-free “Synaptics AudioSmart 2-Mic Dev Kit for Amazon AVS” on the System Dev Kits section of Amazon AVS Development Kits page.

 

Amlogic Far-field Kit Accessories – Click to Enlarge

 

Thanks to Theguyuk for the tip

$129 Allwinner R18 based 3-Mic Far Field Amazon AVS Development Kit in the Works

January 4th, 2018 17 comments

Several companies are already offering development kits for Amazon AVS (Alexa Voice Service), but as we’ve seen in the past, those are rather expensive with far-field kits such starting at $349 with kits such as Synaptics AudioSmart 4-Mic Development Kit, or Intel Speech Enabling Developer Kit, and hands-free kits being barely cheaper at $299 and up.

But there will soon be a cheaper solution, as Allwinner and SinoVoIP (aka Banana Pi) are working on “SoC-Only 3-Mic Far-Field Dev Kit for Amazon AVS” that includes 3 microphones, and works without special DSP, relying instead on Allwinner R18 processor’s audio codec and capabilities.

Click to Enlarge

Allwinner SoC-Only 3-Mic Far-Field Dev Kit for Amazon AVS (aka R18-AVS-EVK) specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner R18 quad-core Cortex-A53 processor @ 1.15GHz with Mali400MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash
  • Video Output – HDMI
  • Audio – 6x Microphones, 2x AEC, AUX and headphone output; GMEMS voice recognition algorithm
  • Connectivity – Dual band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 1x USB type A port, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Power Supply – 12V DC input
  • Dimensions – Mainboard: 100 x 100mm; microphone array board: 90 mm ∅

The board will support Linux operating systems at first, but Android is also being worked on. A ribbon cable is also included in the kit to connect the mic array to the main board. Now you may wonder why a 3-mic development kit comes with 6 microphones. Allwinner explains:

6 microphones are included on the board, while only three are used and qualified, providing flexibility to tune for 6/4/3/2 mic solutions and freely match with different product designs

I’m not 100% sure what that means, but I guess the kit only works for three for now, but in the future algorithms may support a combination of up to 6 microphones. We’ll have to see how the solution works compared to DSP based systems.

Allwinner R18 Block Diagram

The development kit is now found on Amazon website yet, but a page on Banana Pi website mentions they are 50 unit for pre-sale for $129 with shipping scheduled on February 5, 2018. The “Buy” link does not work yet. A few more details may be found in the product page on Allwinner website.

$17 Sonoff S31 Wireless Smart Socket Includes Energy Monitoring Function

December 27th, 2017 10 comments

ITEAD Studio has just launched another Sonoff Smart Home product with Sonoff S31 WiFi smart socket with energy monitoring. Just like Sonoff switches, light bulbs, and their other products, the device can be controlled using eWelink app for Android or iOS, and supports integration with Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant.

It should be noted that the company only provide a US plug version for now, and so far, there’s no Wiki link, so while it’s likely based on ESP8266 or ESP8285 like their other Sonoff devices, it may not be designed to be easily hackable, although I suspect the electronics may be similar to Sonoff POW switch (TBC).

Sonoff S31 hardware specifications listed by ITEAD:

  • Voltage Input – 90~264V AC, 50/60HZ
  • Max. Current – 16A
  • Max. Power – 4200W (Note package above reads max load: 220V/10A)
  • Gang – 1x US type with ground
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi with support for WEP/WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK
  • Misc – Power button, LEDs
  • Dimensions – 75.7×39.7x32mm
  • Weight – 135g
  • Temperature Range – -20 °C ~ 75 °C
  • Humidity – 10%-80%

The socket also includes overload protection for safety, and once you can install eWelink app for Android/iOS to control it remotely, monitor power consumption, and estimated electricity bill, set timers, and securely share with other users in the home.

The company also highlights the compact design, claiming users will be able to connect two sockets on their 2-gang boxes. If you prefer alternative open source firmware like Sonoff-Tasmota or ESPurna, you’d have to wait or do it yourself since the product is still very new.

Many people on Facebook complain about the lack of EU plug, so hopefully the company will take note and soon offer a compatible version, but in the meantime you can purchase the US version of Sonoff S31 for $16.90 plus shipping on ITEAD Studio store. [Update: Sonoff S31 can also be found for $16.90 shipped on Aliexpress]

Intel Speech Enabling Developer Kit Works with Alexa Voice Service, Raspberry Pi 3 Board

October 28th, 2017 4 comments

We’ve known Intel has been working on Quark S1000 “Sue Creek” processor for voice recognition for several months. S1000 SoC is based on two Tensilica LX6 with HiFi3 DSP, some speech recognition accelerators, and up to 8x microphones interfaces which allows it to perform speech recognition locally. The solution can also be hooked to an application processor via SPI, I2S and USB (optional) when cloud based voice recognition is needed.

Intel has recently introduced their Speech Enabling Developer Kit working with Amazon Alexa Voice Service (AVS) featuring a “dual DSP with inference engine” – which must be Quark S1000 – and an 8-mic array. The kit also includes a 40-pin cable to connect to the Raspberry Pi 3 board.

Click to Enlarge

Intel only provided basic specifications for the kit:

  • Intel’s dual DSP with inference engine
  • Intel 8-mic circular array
  • High-performance algorithms for acoustic echo cancellation, noise reduction, beamforming and custom wake word engine tuned to “Alexa”
  • 6x Washers
  • 3x 6mm screws
  • 3x 40mm female-female standoffs (x3)
  • Raspberry Pi connector cable

I could not find detailed information to get started, except for assembly guide shown in the video below. We do not that the kit will work with Amazon Alexa, and requires a few extra bits, namely a Raspberry Pi 3 board, an Ethernet cable, a HDMI cable and monitor, USB keyboard and mouse, an external speaker, a micro USB power supply (at least 5V/1A), and a micro SD card.

The video also points to Intel’s Smart Home page for more details about software, but again I could not find instructions or guide there,  except links to register to a developer workshop at Amazon Re:Invent in Las Vegas on November 30, 2017.

Intel Speech Enabling Developer Kit can be pre-ordered for $399 directly on Intel website with shipping planned for the end of November. The product is also listed on Amazon Developer page, but again with little specific information about the hardware and how to use it. One can assume the workflow should be similar to other AVS devkits.

Thanks to Mustafa for the tip.

Amazon Introduces Echo 2, Echo Plus, Echo Connect, and Echo Spot Alexa Devices

September 28th, 2017 No comments

Beside their “all-new” Amazon Fire TV 2017, Amazon has made a bunch of other announcements mostly related to their Alexa services with four new or updated Echo devices:  the “all-new” Echo, the Echo Plus, Echo Connect, and the Echo Spot.

2017 Amazon Echo (aka Echo 2)

The new second generation of the Alexa based Echo has a new smaller design, improved sound with Dolby processing, and a lower price at just under $100.

Some of the key features include:

  • Speakers – 2.5″ woofer and 0.6″ tweeter
  • Connectivity
    • Dual band 802.11 b/g/n WiFi for streaming music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, etc…, controlling smart devices
    • Bluetooth LE
  • Audio
    • 3.5mm audio jack
    • 7-mic array using beamforming technology and enhanced noise cancellation.
    • Improved wake-word (“Alexa”) detection
  • Various designs with 6 different fabrics
  • Dimensions – 148 x 88 x 88 mm
  • Weight – 821 grams

The Echo can make free calls to the US, Mexico and Canada, control smart home devices such as the new Fire TV media player.

Amazon Echo Plus

Echo Plus has similar features to the Echo, but adds a built-in smart home hub to connect your smart devices such a lights, locks, and others. It sells for $149.99 with a Philips Hue smart lightbulb (while supplies last).

Amazon Echo Plus  main features and specifications:

  • Speakers – 2.5″ woofer and 0.8″ tweeter
  • Connectivity
    • Dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi
    • Bluetooth LE
  • Audio
    • 3.5mm audio jack
    • 7-mic array using beamforming technology and enhanced noise cancellation.
    • Improved wake-word (“Alexa”) detection
  • Built-in hub for simple setup of compatible (Zigbee) smart home devices
  • Misc – Light ring, volume ring, action button, microphone on/off button
  • Various designs with 6 different fabrics
  • Dimensions – 235 x 84 x 84 mm
  • Weight – 954 grams

Just like the Echo 2, Echo Plus can make free calls to North America, and control smart devices over WiFi and BLE, but the smart home hub appears to add support for Zigbee too allowing for a wider range of devices.

Echo Spot

Echo Spot is a compact devices with a round screen that works like other Echo, but can also show news, weather, smart home camera feeds, video calls, Alexa skills, and more on its display. Sold for $129.99 with delivery planned for December.

Key features:

  • Speakers – 1.4″ speaker
  • Display – 2.5″ round display
  • Connectivity
    • Dual band 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
    • Bluetooth LE
  • Audio
    • 3.5mm audio jack
    • 4-mic array using beamforming technology and enhanced noise cancellation.
    • Improved wake-word (“Alexa”) detection
  • Camera – front facing camera
  • Misc – Volume up/down, mic/camera on/off button,
  • Various designs with 6 different fabrics
  • Dimensions – 104 x 97 x 91 mm
  • Weight – 419 grams

Echo Spot comes with a single speaker, a simpler 4-mic arrow, and supports all features of the Echo 2 device.

Echo Connect

Echo Connect is a little different. It requires an Echo device, and transform it into a smart landline connected speakerphone, allowing you to call any phone numbers leveraging Alexa service, the microphone array, and your landline, if you still have one…

Echo Connect specifications:

  • Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi
  • Ports – RJ11 phone jack
  • Misc – Reset button, LEDs
  • Dimensions – 130 x 90 x 29.5 mm
  • Weight – 126.9 grams

Amazon is taking pre-orderd for Echo Connect for $34.99 with delivery scheduled to start on December 13, 2017.

$69.99 Amazon Fire TV 2017 TV Box Supports 4K HDR-10 Video Playback

September 28th, 2017 10 comments

Amazon has just announced a new Fire TV TV box with support for 4K Ultra HD and HDR (High Dynamic Range), and a cheaper price, as it is selling for $69.99 on Amazon US with delivery scheduled to start on October 25, 2017.

Amazon Fire TV 2017 specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S905Z quad core ARM Cortex-A53 processor @ 1.5 GHz with penta-core Mali-450MP3 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB RAM
  • Storage – 8GB flash
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K 60 Hz with HDCP 2.2, Doby Atmos support
  • Video – HDR-10. H.265, H.264
  • Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi + Bluetooth 4.1 LE
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for power (and optional USB Ethernet adapter)
  • Dimensions – 65 x 65 x 15 mm
  • Weight – 87 grams

Amazon just mentions “Amlogic Quad-core 1.5GHz | ARM 4xCA53” for Fire TV processor, so it first assumed it could either be S905X, S905D or S905L since all support 4K60, HDR-10, and H.265, but since Amazon did not list VP9 in the store page, I assumed Amlogic S905L should be the one. But based on more complete specs, the TV box is actually powered by a new Amlogic S905Z processor that supports VP9 too…

The new Fire TV runs Fire OS 6 based on Android 7.1, and ships with an Alexa voice remote control, a USB cable and power adapter, a quick start guide, a product guide, and 2 AAA batteries for the remote control. The device is as simple as possible with only two ports: a short built-in HDMI cable, and a micro USB port for power. That’s it. The latter can also be used to connect a $15 USB Ethernet adapter. Netflix, Hulu, SHOWTIME, Amazon Video, and more services will be accessible using the buttons on the remote control or Alexa, and the TV box can also be paired to Echo devices for far-field voice control.

As with most Amazon devices it will be mostly be for the US market, and some services and features may not work overseas. As a side note, Amlogic has made some recent good deals in the US, as Amlogic S905X is found in Xiaomi Mi Box entry-level Android TV TV box, and now in Amazon Fire TV.

Review of Vobot Alarm Clock with Alexa

September 17th, 2017 4 comments

Karl here with a review of Vobot sent By Cafago. I had to Google it when I was asked to review it. Turned out it was an Echo type device with a pixel display and a battery. It started as an Indiegogo campaign. I had been wanting to try to do some sort of voice control with my home automation so I agreed to review it.

Vobot Clock C1 Specifications

These are pulled from Vobot’s website. No power supply is included but a long USB cable is.

Click to Enlarge

Vobot Setup

I let my wife do the initial setup as I figured that she would use it the most. She followed the instructions, and it seemed straightforward from what she told me. She said she had to reboot it once during a step but it continued the setup with no problems. She tied to our Amazon Prime account, and she quickly was playing some music. During research, I did find out that it was not an always listening device.

Firmware Update

I logged into myvobot.com today to see if anything had changed, and there was an update. It suggested that I rebooted the device so I did before updating. Without logging in I wouldn’t have known there was an update. Maybe I missed something but I don’t remember seeing or hearing some sort of notification. I received a verbal notification that it could take up to 10 minutes, but only took a few minutes. The thing is I have no idea what has changed or improved. There is no changelog.

Vobot Display

Display settings allow you to set Brightness, and the time to display Time, Date, Day of Week, Battery Status, and Date + Time.

Click to Enlarge

That’s what the time display looks like.

After pressing the mic button

Get this at times and the eyes blink

Date and time

Hard to catch this one..Starting to play music

Unplugging power and of course get different one when plugging in

Loading music stream

Teardown

I wanted to do a teardown when I first received the speaker, but I was afraid to break it. Now here at the end, I finally put some force behind it and finally got it apart. Only a few minor scratches and it seems to be fine. The teardown reveals that it is running on a Mediatek MT7688AN, and confirms battery’s capacity. 512MB NANYA storage NT5TU32M16FG-AC completes the list of the main chips. Maybe some enterprising soul will hack this and bring some imaginative new usage.

One big issue

Everything that I tried worked the way I expected for the most part . Home assistant can emulate a Hue bridge, but after reading in the forums, it only works with an Amazon Echo or Google Home speaker. Bummer, that is not the real issue I wanted to bring up. I really wish that it had an always listening microphone. You have to press the button to put it in listening mode. I understand that it has a battery, and would drain the battery but why not have it always listening when plugged in and use the button when roaming about.

Random final thoughts

OK now that I have a device that will take voice commands now what. I like the scrolling display. It is pretty cool and a little retro. I used this about 95% of the time just to play music. Don’t expect much from the speaker, but you can send audio to a home system through the 3.5mm jack on the back.

I know that there are 1000’s of skills but few attracted me. I did like the idea of calling another Alexa device but not supported. Arggh, OK maybe another issue. I did use the weather feature asking about the weather for the next day on occasion.

My 5 year old son was easily able to start music, and it could understand his voice which surprised me. The display is nice, and battery powered is a plus, but I don’t understand one thing. For just about the same price, I can get an Echo Dot which gets me always listening, and 100% works with all the features but no battery or display. I bet that the limitations with the exception of the always listening is inherent to all non Echo devices.

If you are looking for a portable Alexa powered device with a display then the Vobot might be for you. Seems sturdy. Descent battery life. I listened for about 2 hours and it still had a charge on the battery. To get an official Echo Tap it sets you back $120. It is the only official Echo that has a battery.

I would like to thank Cafago for sending the device for review. They provided a coupon code “V3127SA” for the Vobot which is good until 9/30/17, and brings the price down to $ 41.99/€36.1. You’ll also find it for $45 and up on other sites such as DX.com or Amazon.

Sonoff B1 is an $18 Hackable WiFi RGB LED E27 Light Bulb based on ESP8285 WiSoC

July 4th, 2017 6 comments

Earlier this year, I wrote about an ESP8266 based RGB LED “AI Light” lightbulb that was hacked to run ESPurna open source firmware. That’s all good, except some people tried to get one, and ended with a different hardware. So if you’d like something that’s more of a “sure thing”, ITEAD Studio has designed Sonoff B1 dimmable RGB LED E27 light bulb based on ESP8285 processor, and with a “4 pads” to allow for custom firmware flashing.

Sonoff B1 hardware specifications:

  • Typical Lumen Output – 600lm
  • Beam Angle – 120 degrees typ.
  • Color Temperature –  2800K-6500K & RGB full color
  • Connectivity – WiFi 802.11 b/g/n @ 2.4GHz
  • Power Supply – 90-260V AC 50/60Hz via E27 base
  • Power Consumption – Light off: 0.5W Max; rated power: 6W
  • Temperature Range – Operating: 0ºC~ 40ºC; storage: -20ºC~ 80ºC
  • Operating Humidity – 5%-90% RH

Sonoff B1 with stock firmware can be controlled using the usual eWelink Android / iOS app to turn the light on and off, define timers, select the color, and/or dim the light. The aopp also supports 4 scenes for resting, reading, partying and casual use that you can customize as you wish. The LED bulb is also compatible with Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant services so you can use voice commands to control the light instead. Bear in mind that you may need to wait a little longer to get custom firmware working for it, unless you are willing to get your hands dirty. But this looks so similar to “AI Light”, that I’d expect a port not to be too difficult.

You can purchase Sonoff B1 light bulb for $18 + shipping on ITEAD Studio website.