Open Source

Want to learn how to use the Raspberry Pi? Just ask Amazon's Alexa

Alexa, the voice-controlled virtual assistant found on Amazon's Echo smart speakers, now has the Pi Spy Alexa skill.

Raspberry Pi owners who want to learn how to start building their own gadgets using the $35 computer can now ask Amazon's virtual assistant Alexa for help.

Alexa, the voice-controlled assistant found on Amazon's Echo smart speakers, now has the Pi Spy Alexa skill.

The Skill allows Pi owners to ask Alexa about what each of the Pi's general purpose input-output (GPIO) pins do. These pins are what allows the Pi to communicate with attached electronics, letting the Pi drive motors, flash LEDs, collect data from sensors, and more.

The Pi Spy Skill lets users ask Alexa what function each of the GPIO pins perform, for example by saying "Alexa, ask Pi Spy what is Pin 2". Alexa can also help users identify where a pin is on the board, for example by asking "Alexa, ask Pi Spy where is GPIO 8".

SEE: Hardware spotlight: The Raspberry Pi

The creator of Pi Spy, Matt Hawkins, says he made the skill to provide an easy way of accessing information about the pins while his hands were busy soldering or building circuits.

There are already various options for accessing Amazon Alexa using the Pi, from dedicated kits to low-cost DIY options.

Hawkins wrote the skill using the Python programming language, and hosted the Skill on the AWS Lambda service, which allows developers to upload code to be triggered on demand.

The skill is currently only available to UK users of Alexa, but Hawkins is making an American English version in the hope it will be made available in the US soon.

The Raspberry Pi has blown past all expectations, selling more than 14 million boards, and now includes a family of devices, ranging from the $35 Raspberry Pi 3 Model B down to the $5 Raspberry Pi Zero. The latest Pi to be released was the Raspberry Pi Zero WH, which adds a soldered pin header to the Raspberry Pi Zero W.

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The Raspberry Pi Zero WH.

Image: Pimoroni

Read more about the Raspberry Pi

About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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