You have to give the consumer electronics industry props for innovating and creating systems with whatever technology it can get its hands on. Nothing is off limits, out of bounds, too big or too small.
Liberty Games, the game room specialist based in the UK that sells pool tables, arcade machines, pinball machines, and other gaming favorites, thought way outside automation box by syncing an entire game room with Amazon Echo.
The luxury game room is a demo project where users can control all the equipment in the room with voice control via Amazon’s smart assistant, Alexa. With a simple voice command, players can start up any game without any fumbling around for buttons or coins. The game room features include:
- Pool table
- Arcade machine
- Pinball machine
Liberty Games adapted these four most popular game room products to make them smarter and more interactive, with the help of a Raspberry Pi, a tiny computer that facilitates easy programming, and a Logitech Harmony Hub.
There were two big parts of the setup, says the company. Creating the skill and executing the result. The first task was to teach Alexa a new skill. Amazon documents how to build a skill by creating a list of phrases people would use to ask Alexa to perform the action as well as what Alexa would say back to the user. Liberty Games also created cards to display in the Alexa app on iPhone or Android.
This is all done on a server that talks to Alexa. The same server talks to the Raspberry Pi, which is what makes the magic happen.
For any coders/programmers out there, this communication with Alexa is done via JSON, making it platform independent (although you can host your skills on Amazon Web Services).
The execution is done a little different depending on the equipment. The CD Jukebox is controlled using an infrared remote, which provided an easy process to hook up the Logitech Harmony Hub to Alexa and program in a CD-playing command.
The pool table, arcade machine, and pinball machine are coin-operated using a mechanical coin drawer. All three use Raspberry Pi and PiFace Digital, an add-on to the Raspberry Pi. Liberty Games wired the outputs of PiFace Digital to the coin mechanism and ran a small piece of code on the Pi to trigger the mechanism to release the pool balls.
The server, which was already communicating with Alexa, just needed to sync to the Pi to pass on the command, which it did pretty quickly.
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