Hacking an Amazon Echo to control a wheelchair


This Maker modified his electric wheelchair to be voice-controlled using Amazon Echo, Raspberry Pi and Arduino.


Amazon Echo is a device that listens to what you say, and can respond with information or even some simple home automation tasks. Turning lights on is interesting, but Bob Paradiso wondered if he “could push Echo’s utility a little further.” In his case, he was able to modify an electric wheelchair to be voice-controlled using the Echo with a Raspberry Pi and Arduino Uno (ATmega328).

echo-chair-1

Although Paradiso considered using Echo to add things an Amazon to-do list and IFTTT to carry out an action based on the list, he decided to instead setup the Raspberry Pi to emulate a Hue lighting hub. This meant more direct control of the chair, and less delay between voice command and action.

As seen in the first video below, this type of interface might be cumbersome for day-to-day use, but could possibly serve as an alternate input method. Paradiso is quick to point out that his control method is a demonstration, and “lacks CRITICAL safeties that need to be in place for anyone (but especially someone with significant disability) to use safely.”

echo-chair-3

Paradiso also tried this out using only Pi-based software PocketSpinx, which, according to him gave “acceptable but worse results.” This can be seen (with a functioning fan at 1:25) in the second clip below.

Intrigued? Head over to the Maker’s entire project page to read more.

2 thoughts on “Hacking an Amazon Echo to control a wheelchair

  1. Pingback: An Internet-connected, voice-controlled robotic bartender | Atmel | Bits & Pieces

  2. Pingback: Have your Arduino let you know when your package arrives | Atmel | Bits & Pieces

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