In my second IoT project, I tackle feeding my cats by voice commands.
My family owns three cats; for the most part, they are well behaved – unless they are hungry. When it’s time for them to eat, they get a little crazy – constantly meowing and running under/between our legs, or waking us up at night.
We used to keep extra food in their dishes, but they would just overeat – resulting in cat throw-up (which, without fail, I seemed to step in every morning on my way to the kitchen).
We’ve been living in this “claw-ful” situation for a few years, and never really considered resolving the problem. My oldest daughter suggested that we (and by we, she really meant me) build an automated cat feeder. I told her that I didn’t have the time to build one… but then, I figured, why not give it a try.
Some people spend their vacations traveling, or relaxing, or visiting family. I spent my two weeks off building an Alexa enabled, Raspberry Pi device for Hackster’s Internet of Voice challenge.
But, to paraphrase Madonna: “Don’t Cry for Me, Internet.” I really enjoyed those two plus weeks of coding. I learned a ton about AWS IoT and MQTT (and re-enforced some “non-sexy” skills – like security and IAM).
And the device that I decided to build…. a magic mirror. Why a magic mirror? Well, I am the guy that:
Never checks for delays in his work commute until he is stuck in a four-lane accident
Forgets his umbrella when the forecast calls for afternoon showers
Doesn’t find out about a major news event unless the story breaks on ESPN
Always forgets to pull my trash bins to the curb on garbage pick-up day
In short, my morning routine is a mess (#firstworldproblems). An Amazon Echo (or a phone, for that matter) would resolve most of those problems. Unfortunately, I never seem to have my phone with me as I’m getting ready in the morning (it’s usually charging). And I’m usually not asking Alexa for these details (I don’t have an Alexa device in my bathroom).
60% of my morning routine is centered in and around the bathroom or bedroom, so I decided to build an Alexa skill and Alexa Voice Service-enabled magic mirror – which I’ve titled the Mystic Mirror.