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Google’s new AIY Vision Kit Lets You Build And Hack Your Own Intelligent Pi-Powered Camera

From the success of the Google/Raspberry Pi AIY Voice Kit, sent to MagPi subscribers earlier this year, then made available for purchase at the end of the summer, the two companies have teamed up again to launch the next in the series of cardboard-bound AI kits and make advanced technology even more accessible.

The new AIY Vision Kit is a smart, hackable camera system that runs on the Raspberry Pi Zero W. It includes a custom bonnet featuring the Intel Movidius chip, designed for low-power neural network applications, processing images at 30 FPS for “near real-time performance” to recognize objects, detect facial expressions, and more according to the announcement post. Also included are the necessary electronics and housing to fully complete the kit — lens, pushbutton, speaker, and components. You’ll still need to supply the RPi Zero W, Raspberry Pi camera module, and an SD card.

The kit can be preordered for $44.99 at Microcenter, and will be available in December.

Bundled with the software image are three neural network models:

  • A model based on MobileNets that can recognize a thousand common objects.
  • A model for face detection capable of not only detecting faces in the image, but also scoring facial expressions on a “joy scale” that ranges from “sad” to “laughing.”
  • A model for the important task of discerning between cats, dogs and people.

For those of you who have your own models in mind, we’ve included the original TensorFlow code and a compiler. Take a new model you have (or train) and run it on the the Intel® Movidius™ MA2450.

Extend the kit to solve your real-world problems

The AIY Vision Kit is completely hackable:

  • Want to prototype your own product? The Vision Kit and the Raspberry Pi Zero W can fit into any number of tiny enclosures.
  • Want to change the way the camera reacts? Use the Python API to write new software to customize the RGB button colors, piezo element sounds and GPIO pins.
  • Want to add more lights, buttons, or servos? Use the 4 GPIO expansion pins to connect your own hardware.

We hope you’ll use it to solve interesting challenges, such as:

  • Build “hotdog/not hotdog” (or any other food recognizer)
  • Turn music on when someone walks through the door
  • Send a text when your car leaves the driveway
  • Open the dog door when she wants to get back in the house

Mike Senese is the Executive Editor of Make: magazine. He is also a TV host, starring in various engineering and science shows for Discovery Channel, including Punkin Chunkin, How Stuff Works, and Catch It Keep It.

An avid maker, Mike spends his spare time tinkering with electronics, doing amateur woodworking, and attempting to cook the perfect pizza.

View more articles by Mike Senese