Raspberry Pi Roundup - a disabled help system, an earthquake monitoring system, and re-using a Kindle as a Pi screen

Raspberry Pi Roundup - a disabled help system, an earthquake monitoring system, and re-using a Kindle as a Pi screen


A recent hackathon, hackABILITY, brought together teams to concentrate on providing solutions to disabled people. One team of the seven that competed, AIDex, came together to use AI and speech recognition to help tetraplegics carry out specific tasks, with specific reference to one of their own team, Deborah Kennard who is herself a tetraplegic. The team, led by Tom Burgmann, used the engineering.com projects site to brainstorm and storyboard their ideas. As Burgmann said:

We wanted to go from a custom, expensive, service-heavy system to something that’s an off-the-shelf consumer product.

The whole set-up comprises the following components:

  • Raspberry Pi 3B
  • 16GB Micro SD Card
  • Raspberry Pi 3 Enclosure
  • Dual Microphone Mic-hat from Seeed Tech
  • External Speaker
  • 5V Power Source/Charger Battery Pack
  • Custom MicHead Assembly
  • 8 RGB LED Indicator Strip
  • 3D Printed Enclosure with Gooseneck Mounting

The Pi runs Raspbian and is programmed with modules in Java, Python and C with an analytics hub hosted on the Microsoft Azure platform. After evaluating and costing out a variety of solutions, the team eventually settled on the Amazon Alexa Software Development Kit and created their first ‘skill’ called AIDrian.

One of the key things that the team wanted to address was how to enable Kennard to contact the emergency services. For this, they added a time-of-flight sensor to the microphone mouthpiece. If she opens and closes her mouth three times, Alexa will ask her if she wants to make an emergency call. If she repeats the action, Alexa connects her to the emergency services.

The great thing about this project is that it brings the cost of a solution down from around $10,000 to easily less than $1,000. The team’s next step is to take it from this prototype to a fully working, reproducible product.

You can read more about the project over at engineering.com and via the links in the above article.

Image from the AIDex Team

Shakin' all over

Jefferson Chang and Molly Yunker, from the Oklahoma Geological Survey, hope to get schools, libraries and museums across the state monitoring for earthquakes using a little Raspberry Pi magic. The Pis will be fitted with Raspberry Shake add-on boards and will be used to monitor and report on any tremors which occur. They currently have 10 devices out for beta testing but hope to eventually have 100 or more in different locations.

The Raspberry Shake, which started life as a Kickstarter, is currently available from the Shake Shop.

You can read a bit more about the OGS project here.


Ben Yarmis has taken an old Amazon Kindle e-reader, hacked the software and then created a connection to a Raspberry Pi Zero run from a portable USB battery pack. Called the Kindleberry Pi Zero W, the system is a great way to get a portable set-up, although Yarmis admits that the screen refresh rate holds things back a bit. We’ve seen this kind of thing before, of course, but Ben has documented the process thoroughly over on his blog.

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