Peeqo – The GIF Bot

Peeqo is a conversational UI that answers only in GIFs. For those who know me, it’s essentially the physical version of 90% of my text messages with friends and colleagues.

I’m sure that future historians will look back on 2016 (if they dare acknowledge its presence) as the year we returned to imagery as our main form of social interaction. Once upon a time, we communicated stories and emotions via drawings on cave walls and hieroglyphs etched into stone. Throw in a few thousand years of language evolution, and we’re right back to where we started, albeit with a few added frames of movement.

So whether you pronounce it GIF with a ‘Guh’ or GIF with a ‘Juh’, you’re sure to have come across one in your everyday life. After all, they make for a much better visual response than the boring old word format we’ve grown accustomed to.

So it’s no surprise that when programmer and developer Abhishek Singh introduced Reddit to Peeqo, he managed to pique-o* our GIF interest right away.

Peeqo was Singh’s thesis project at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts. It was his attempt to merge the three things he loves: making things by hand, animated movies, and the GIF.

Some of you may be aware of Slack, a team messaging system used by businesses, groups, and charities (*ahem*) across the globe. One of Slack’s many features is the ability to pull GIFs from the popular GIF database GIPHY and display them in response to text conversation. Peeqo uses this same premise, searching keywords on the site to pull the correct response to your verbal communication with the bot.

(It’s a great lesson in making sure you use correct keywords when saving images to the web for public use, as some of the responses don’t always fit the mood. An example, which I will leave you to find, would be a specific Team America GIF that Liz has banned me from using in the Comms Team channel.)

Peeqo sits on your desk and uses the Google Speech API to detect the use of the wake word ‘Peeqo’ via one of four microphones, then it uses to search GIPHY for the correct response to your query. All of this runs with a Raspberry Pi at its heart, while two Arduinos work to control the LED notification ring atop its head and the servo motor that dictates the body’s movement. Peeqo also acts as a great bridge into home automation, controlling lights and other smart devices in your home or office, along with acting as a media player and new best friend work-based assistant.

I won’t go into the technical details of the build, but if you’re interested, an almost fully GIF-powered walkthrough of Peeqo is available here.

As is the case with so many of you lovely makers out there, Singh aims to make the entire project open-source; you can sign up for a notification as to when this will happen here.

Until then, here’s Abhishek explaining his project in more detail.


*Pique-o? Oh wow. Wow. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’ll get my coat.



elParaguayo avatar

I really hate being “that guy” but the phrase is “to pique your interest”, not “peak”.

Helen Lynn avatar

No, no, don’t apologise. After all, if people don’t know when they mis-step, how can they improve? Spelling now corrected.

paulc avatar

I’m confused… why did he need to use two Arduinos? Surely the Pi has the I/O capabilities to do that as well?

Abhishek Singh avatar

Hey thanks for featuring my project! Couldn’t have done it without the Pi!

MalMan35 avatar

Oh this is awesome! I’m sure I would get a good laugh at the GIFS it would show. The gifs in the blog posts here always bring a smile and sometimes even a laugh.

Donald Foltz avatar

Hey Alex! Just wanted to put this out there (I didn’t know Liz is out of the office until the 19th) but speaking of of PICO, the people over at Next Thing Co. are offering pay what you want for PICO-8 on the Raspberry Pi! All proceeds go to Black Girls CODE. $5 is the recommended donation but $35 covers 1 scholarship to a Black Girls CODE workshop. It’s for a good cause and PICO-8 on the Pi is a pretty sweet deal! I am in no way endorsed or afflilliated with Next Thing Co. Just wanted to share the knowledge. Please take the time to get the word out. Let’s all #CodeTogether

Alan Mc (Irish Framboise) avatar

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Why, Alex, why? “a specific Team America GIF that Liz has banned…” #OnceSeenCannotBeUnseen =oD Thanks for that at 7am in the morning. Sometimes the search engine is indeed *not* our friend! A+

PS Awesome project – sign of the times!

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