Forget Siri – make Wolfram Alpha your personal assistant

So you can spend a bundle on a new phone and it comes with a voice-activated digital assistant. But let’s be honest, it’s much more satisfying if you coded up this feature yourself. Here’s a guide on doing just that by combining an Asterisk server with the Wolfram Alpha API.

Asterisk is a package we are already familiar with. It’s an open source Private Branch Exchange suite that lets you build your own telephone network. Chances are, you’re not going to build one just for this project, but if you do make sure to document the process and let us know about it. With the Asterisk server in place you just need to give the assistant script an extension (in this case it’s 4747).

But then there’s the problem of translating your speech into text which can be submitted as a Wolfram query. There’s an API for that too which uses Google to do that translation. From there you can tweak abbreviations and other parameters, but all-in-all your new assistant is ready to go. Call it up and ask what to do when you have a flat tire (yeah, that commercial drives us crazy too).

[Thanks M]

Dial 1 to get Siri as your operator

Back in the days of yore when hats were fashionable and color TV didn’t exist, there were real life people who would answer the phone if you dialed 0. These operators would provide directory assistance, and connect you to another number (such as KL5-8635). Apple’s Siri is a lot like an olde-timey phone operator, so [davis] decided to put Siri in an old rotary telephone.

The build started off with a very inexpensive Bluetooth headset and very old rotary phone. The single button on the Bluetooth headset was wired to a contact of the dial – in this case, the number 1. Dialing 1 shorts two contacts in the phone and the Bluetooth headset turns on.

[davis] came up with a very easy build but dialing 1 just isn’t the same as dialing 0. Connecting the Bluetooth button to 0 closes the button for too long. He says ‘0 for operator’ could be implemented with an ATtiny or similar, but we’re wondering if [davis] could make due with a dial-less candlestick phone.

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Siri as a lippy and sometimes profane television remote

If the addition of Siri to your iPhone has given you a somewhat-real life companion (and hope that you might not be forever alone) this hack is right up your alley. [Todd Treece] built a hardware fixiture for the living room which bridges the gap between Apple’s new digital assitant and your television.

The box itself is an Arduino with a WiFly shield and the hardware necessary to make it a universal infrared remote control. He mounted it on the underside of his end table, with the IR LED in line-of-sight for the television. Using SiriProxy he’s added functionality that lets you request a channel change either by the name of the network, or the channel number.

As you can see in the video after the break, Siri has some strong opinions on the quality of programming for certain channels. That and contempt for your inability to just change the channel yourself. But this setup does augment your remote control experience by giving you a synopsis of what’s playing right now for the channel you’ve requested.

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New Siri hack controls your car

siri-viper-smartstart

Siri can make appointments, tell you the weather, but now she can start your car as well!

After we showed you how Siri could be hacked to use a custom proxy and execute custom commands, we knew it wouldn’t be long before additional hacks would start rolling in. [Brandon Fiquett] thought it would be great if Siri could remotely control his car, so he built this functionality into Siri using [Pete’s] proxy software.

The hack relies on the Viper remote start system he had installed in his car, along with a few modules loaded into his proxy server. His proxy server tweaks allow Siri to interpret a preset list of commands such as “Vehicle Start” and “Vehicle Arm/Disarm”, relaying the commands to the Viper SmartStart module.

We imagine that the back-end functionality is not unlike the existing SmartStart iOS app, but it looks like [Brandon] beat Viper to the game since Siri has not been made available to 3rd party developers as of yet.

Check out the video below to see Siri in action, then be sure to swing by his web site for additional videos as well as the code that makes this possible.

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Siri proxy adds tons of functionality, doesn’t require a jailbreak

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[Pete] has an iPhone 4s and loves Siri, but he wishes she had some more baked-in capabilities. While the application is technically still in beta and will likely be updated in the near future, [Pete] wanted more functionality now.

Since Apple isn’t known for their open architecture, he had to get creative. Knowing how Siri’s commands are relayed to Apple thanks to the folks at Applidium, he put together a proxy server that allows him to intercept and work with the data.

The hack is pretty slick, and doesn’t even require a jailbreak. A bit of DNS and SSL trickery is used to direct Siri’s WiFi traffic through his server, which then relays the commands to Apple’s servers for processing. On the return trip, his server interprets the data, looking for custom commands he has defined.

In the video below, he gives a brief overview of the system, then spends some time showing how he can use Siri to control his WiFi enabled thermostat. While the process only works while Siri is connected to his home network via WiFi, it’s still pretty awesome.

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Giving Siri the keys to your house

We haven’t really covered many hacks having to do with Apple’s newest iPhone feature Siri. We’d bet you’ve already heard a bunch about the voice-activated AI assistant and here’s your chance to give it the keys to your house. This project uses Siri to actuate the deadbolt on an entry door in a roundabout sort of way.

This is really just a Siri frontend for an SMS entry system seen in several other hacks. The inside of the door (pictured above) has a servo motor mounted next to, and attached via connecting rod with, the lever-style deadbolt. An Arduino equipped with a WiFly shield controls that servo and is waiting for instructions from the Google app engine. But wait, they’re not done yet. The app engine connects to a Twilio account which gives it the ability to receive SMS messages. Long story short; Siri is sending a text message that opens the door… eventually. You can seen in the demo after the break that the whole process takes over twenty seconds from the time you first access Siri to the point the bolt is unlocked. Still, it’s a fine first prototype.

There’s a fair amount of expensive hardware on that door which we’d like to see converted to extra feaures. [CC Laan] has already added one other entry method, using a piezo element to listen for a secret knock. But we think there’s room for improvement. Since it’s Internet connected we’d love to see a sensor to monitor how often the door is opened, and perhaps a PIR sensor that would act as a motion-sensing burglar alert system.

Don’t need something this complicated? How about implementing just the secret knock portion of the hack?

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