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Google To Release AI Vision Kit For Raspberry Pi Zero W

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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The kit includes all the elements needed to make artificially intelligent vision gadgets, with AI tasks carried out on an included Intel chip

Google has announced a second hands-on artificial intelligence kit under its AIY partnership with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, which the search giant said lets users build devices that can run computer vision tasks without the need for cloud-based resources.

AIY (as in “DIY”) launched in May with the release of the AIY Voice Kit, which gave Raspberry Pi users add=ons such as microphones allowing devices to receive and respond to Google Assistant audio commands.

The new Vision Kit includes a lens kit with macro and wide, a simple speaker and connecting elements such as a mounting nut for tripods, as well as an arcade-style button that can be illuminated in different colours and a low-tech-looking case in the form of a brown cardboard box.

But the main component is the VisionBonnet circuit board, which includes an Intel Movidius MA2450 low-power processing unit for running vision processing chores. The chip can also execute neural network models on the device, meaning no network connectivity is required.

visionkit-assembly-trip.width-1000

Cat and dog detector

The kit’s software includes three neural network models based on Google’s TensorFlow, an open source dataflow programming library – one that can recognise one thousand common objects, a second for categorising faces and expressions and a third for detecting people, cats and dogs.

A tool included with the kit lets users compile models in order to train or retrain them on a workstation or cloud service, and an included Python API lets users change the button colours, adjust the speaker’s piezoelectric sounds and access the circuit board’s GPIO pins.

Users will need to provide their own Raspberry Pi Zero W, a Raspberry Pi Camera, an SD card and a power supply.

Google said the kit could be used, for instance, to build gadgets that identify plants and animals, notify you when your dog is at the door or capture when a car arrives in or leaves the driveway.

The company said it is selling the kit for $44.99 (£33) through Micro Centre, a major US electronics chain, beginning on 31 December.

AIY is a partnership with the non-profit Raspberry Pi Foundation, while Google’s current AI deal with Intel dates back to November of last year.

Amongst Intel’s competitors in the crowded market for connected AI devices is Huawei, which in September launched the Kirin 970 chipset intended, like the Vision Kit, to carry out AI processing tasks directly on a mobile gadget rather than in the cloud.

The chipset is Huawei’s first to feature an AI-dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU).

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