Raspberry Pi turns retro radio into interactive storyteller

8 Bits and a Byte created this voice-controllable, interactive, storytelling device, hidden inside a 1960s radio for extra aesthetic wonderfulness.

A Raspberry Pi 3B works with an AIY HAT, a microphone, and the device’s original speaker to run chatbot and speech-to-text artificial intelligence.

This creature is a Bajazzo TS made by Telefunken some time during the 1960s in West Germany, and this detail inspired the espionage-themed story that 8 Bits and a Byte retrofitted it to tell. Users are intelligence agents whose task is to find the evil Dr Donogood.

The device works like one of those ‘choose your own adventure’ books, asking you a series of questions and offering you several options. The story unfolds according to the options you choose, and leads you to a choice of endings.

In with the new (Raspberry Pi tucked in the lower right corner)

What’s the story?

8 Bits and a Byte designed a decision tree to provide a tight story frame, so users can’t go off on question-asking tangents.

When you see the ‘choose your own adventure’ frame set out like this, you can see how easy it is to create something that feels interactive, but really only needs to understand the difference between a few phrases: ‘laser pointer’; ‘lockpick’; ‘drink’; take bribe’, and ‘refuse bribe’.

How does it interact with the user?

Skip to 03mins 30secs to see the storytelling in action

Google Dialogflow is a free natural language understanding platform that makes it easy to design a conversational user interface, which is long-speak for ‘chatbot’.

There are a few steps between the user talking to the radio, and the radio figuring out how to respond. The speech-to-text and chatbot software need to work in tandem. For this project, the data flow runs like so:

1: The microphone detects that someone is speaking and records the audio.

2-3: Google AI (the Speech-To-Text box) processes the audio and extracts the words the user spoke as text.

4-5: The chatbot (Google Dialogflow) receives this text and matches it with the correct response, which is sent back to the Raspberry Pi.

6-7: Some more artificial intelligence uses this text to generate artificial speech.

8: This audio is played to the user via the speaker.

Make sure to check out more of 8 Bits and a Byte’s projects on YouTube. We recommend Mooomba the cow roomba.


Wesley avatar

Shouldn’t the 6-7 step be labeled “text-to-speech” rather than “speech-to-text”?

8 Bits and a Byte avatar

It totally should, good spotting!

Ashley Whittaker avatar

I *was* thinking to change it but it matches your lovely data flow diagram this way!

8 Bits and a Byte avatar

A little mistake here and there indeed, gives some extra charm :) It also kinda proofs were human, bliep bloep!

Anders avatar

Telefunken, like Grundig, nostalgic names.

Jon avatar

It would be really cool if you put this in a old school walkie talkie, and you and you ‘mysterious stranger’ contact had to solve spy riddles along a storyline. I would totally buy that.

8 Bits and a Byte avatar

Yes, that would be awesome!

George Maluni avatar

Hi There,
I am George from Kenya. How can I get Raspberry Pi4 model – 4 GB RAM.
How much does it cost ?

Ashley Whittaker avatar

Hi ? George, I just checked out product pages and it looks like we don’t yet have an Approved Reseller based in Kenya ? sorry

Bernhard avatar

Oh an old Telefunken radio receiver :-)
An old historic brand from Germany.
Best regards

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