Home Assistant is an open-source smart home platform that focuses on providing local control and privacy to its users. It can run off a Raspberry Pi or even a local server.
They also have a subscription service for access to additional features such as support for Alexa and Google Assistant, which is managed by a company called 'Nabu Casa'.
In a blog last week, Paulus announced a new open-source project that aims to offer a voice assistant without an active internet connection or any other big tech voice assistants.
So, an open-source challenger to Google, Alexa, and Siri? 😲
Let's see what this is all about, then.
What is it?: This will be a part of the Home Assistant application and will offer the ability to run voice commands locally to control the connected smart devices.
Paulus also asserts that their most important priority is to support different languages, he says:
People need to be able to speak in their own language, as that is the most accessible and only acceptable language for a voice assistant for the smart home.
To fuel this endeavor, the creator of Rhasspy, Mike Hansen, has been roped in to make this possible.
For those of you who don't know, Rhasspy is another open-source software that specializes in providing a fully offline voice assistant that is backed by its community of users.
If you ask me, I feel that this feature of Home Assistant will be powered by Rhasspy, which is a good thing.
Why reinvent something that already exists? It's better to improve upon it.
What to expect?: Initially, the voice assistant won't be able to do things you might expect. So, things like making a web search, making calls, playing voice games, etc., are a no-go.
What it will focus on instead are the basics of what a voice assistant should be; this was done to make sure that the work ahead of them was manageable.
They aim to start with a few actions and then build up language models around them.
In its current state, Home Assistant supports 62 different languages in its user interface. They plan to add support for all these languages with their voice assistant.
When to expect?: They have already started work on this by building a collection of intent matching sentences for every language.
What this means is that the community can contribute to the development of the voice assistant by adapting the commands for smart devices to their respective native languages.
They aim for a release sometime in 2023 and have mentioned that it will be the 'year of voice'.
I think an open-source voice assistant that works offline can be a very useful thing to have; it lets you be free of any tracking from big tech.
💬 With the added benefit of having a large community behind its development of it, what's not to like?