BeagleBoard/GSoC/Modern Speak and Spell

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Recreating and improving the functionality of the previous Speak and Spell toy by Texas Instruments, and generate open-source code for it.

Student: Anirban Banik
Mentors: Jason Kridner


To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the “Speak & Spell” from Texas instruments, this proposal was accepted in order to create an updated “Speak & Spell” using a PocketBeagle.


I have completed the task required as described on the ideas page, and created a pull request, as listed here

About Me

IRC: AnirbanBanik1998 || Anirban
Github: [1]
School: ST. Xavier's Institution, Panihati, Kolkata
Country: India
Primary language: English,Hindi,Bengali
Typical work hours: 9:30 - 23:00 IST GMT/EST/PST to Ist Adjusted Time
Previous GSoC participation: This is my first GSoC participation. Got interested in open-source the day I started with it, and naturally learnt about GSoC soon. Really excited to work with an open-source community, and generate useful open-source code.

Skill(proficient): C,Python,HTML,CSS,JavaScript and Java

Tools(proficient) : Git,Linux

Experience : C,Python,Java,HTML,CSS,JavaScript,Arduino

Hardware Skills : Arduino, Raspberry Pi(basic)

Modern “Speak & Spell” using PocketBeagle

Project name: Modern “Speak & Spell” using PocketBeagle


To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the “Speak & Spell” from Texas instruments, create an updated “Speak & Spell” using a PocketBeagle.
 This should be a general Linux application that can be reproduced and should not be a one-off build.

My approach to this problem will be more in the software domain, and some basic wirings in the hardware domain.

Modern “Speak & Spell” project overview

The Speak & Spell was an electronic hand-held computer first introduced in 1978, and instantly becoming a favourite of children and adults alike. that consisted of a TMC0280 linear predictive coding speech synthesizer, a keyboard, and a receptor slot to receive one of a collection of ROM game. The improvements that I am trying to bring forth in this project are, Speech to Text along with Text to Speech functionality. For the former, I am thinking of using CMU Sphinx, and for the latter I will use CMU Flite which is specifically designed for small-scale embedded systems. I am aiming at implementing speech-recognition for not only recognizing the spelling of the user, but also as a voice launcher for launching the games at the user's command. This can be specifically helpful for those who don't have a keyboard or don't want to use it. This is, of course, an added functionality, as the typing functionality will always be there.

Detailed Description

On Starting the Application:

 1. The user will be prompted to select a game among the given list of games. He can either launch the game using his voice or keyboard. Thus the voice-launcher scheme works here.
 2. If the "Spell It" game launches, it will prompt the user to speak out the spelling of a word spoken out by the application. The word is from an already created dictionary. 
 Here Text to Speech works.
 3. If the "Hangman" game launches, it will ask the user to fill in the blanks to create a word. This game is so made that if any letter is entered or spoken by the user, 
 which is repeated in the answer, then the letter is placed at every blank it is supposed to be in one go.
 4. If the "Encrypter" game starts, then it is a multi-user game. One encrypts a word in a certain way, and the other has to decrypt it to get back the original word. 

Progress till now

I have started working on this project in order to brush up my understanding about how this application is going to work. Firstly, I started with recreating the original games, so that I might be able to add more functionality to them later. Finished building two games, the "Spell It" and "Hangman" and have started work on "Encrypter". Regarding the usage of CMU Sphinx, till now I have restricted myself to only the English Speak and Spell which I aim to extend to the other languages as well. The usage of CMU Sphinx requires a dictionary of words to be recognized be made. I have done it manually, and made a phonetic dictionary of it from the CMU Sphinx website. This dictionary contains words to start and stop games, and alphabets A to Z for aid in Spelling.


A rough functioning of the Hangman Game.

Started with implementation of Speech to text. Not quite reaped the results, but gradual progress is being made, adding to my experience as well. We have to work in two terminals, one for launching the PocketSphinx, and another for the actual games.


I have my Finals till may 30th,after that i can commit 55+ hours a week to this project.During finals there's a gap of 4~5 days between each subject exam so during that time i can commit around 35 hours a week.

I will be starting work on this project asap once accepted by reading as much documentation i can get on my hands about beaglebone and the sensors.

Acceptance Mail

Commence building of the physical anemometer to save time,order stuff.

Week 1:

During this week i will try out the older code and the basic portable anemometer build.Study all the pinout diagrams,spec sheets and test all the hardware and sensors.

Week 2 - 3

By now i should know all of technical stuff and armed with that i shall begin writing the framework for rest of the addon modules(barometer,temp, humidity).

Deliverables : All of the core modules for the added sensors shall be ready and tested individually and a working anemometer

Week 4- 6

Begin developing the remote connection module,test the networking side of things and write the basic framework required to upload data.

Week 6 - 9

Test the remote connectivity module by isolating it on my homelabs virtual network,start work on the user end gui.Add individual control functionality by end of week 9 with a database setup to store the data locally.

Deliverable : Successful connectivity remotely and Designed prototype of the user end gui,database setup.

Week 10

Add graph generation functionality and connect to a local database to store the graphs.add setup scripts and begin polishing for final package installation.

This is going to be a fun week since i plan to go to my mud trail where i bike on everyday.Its a swamp with high humidity and temperature. i plan to deploy it and camp out Here the whole day to test the remote connectivity and sensors.

Deliverable's : Testing of package code,deployed beaglebone in a swamp location and testing of over 5 hours.

Week 11

Buffer week

Week 12-13

Test,bugfixing merging

Week 14

Prepare the final presentation slides and video.

Final Goals:

A Working Weather station prototype that can be deployed quickly in any environmental condition. The weather station shall be able to gather Wind speed,Air pressure,temperature,humidity,gas detection(methane for global warming) and whatever the user decides to add to it further.The station shall be capable of sending the data to a remote server and the user shall be able to access the data from multiple machines.

Future Goals

More complex web based interface that has more functionality,user groups.This can be sold as a commercial kit,with the front end software being opensource and free to download.

Experience and Approach

Though I had Computer Science as a subject in my school, yet was never really aware of all the things going on in this domain, till I reached college


  • Smart CryptoPriceTracker : Used couple of api's and the requests framework to keep track of various crypto currencies set by the user.The user was able to set the minimum and maximum targets for the specific user defined currencies and whenever the target set was achieved. A sms,mail and call with all of the information would be sent to the user. The program has no limit on amount of currencies that can be tracked in realtime. It's basically a bot that does all the tracking work for you,you just have to tell it what currency track.

  • Automatic Water Dispenser : Indian summers are hot and harsh thus using a rpi and soil moisture detectors a script was developed that would dispense water whenever required.


  • Participated in GSoC Heat contest in our college, and got selected for a mini experience of the actual GSoC. Completed the tasks given in my proposal successfully.


During majority of the gsoc i won't be having any academic duties to fulfil since the summer break would be pretty long.Thus i can devote my whole time to the project.This shall also help me enhance my database managment and remote networking knowledge which would be required for the remote connectivity part of the project.

Since much of the groundwork has already been laid i am going to jump directly to adding the sensors and completing the software part of it which had been promisied in both previous gsocs but was never achieved.

The reason i believe i should be chosen,is my interest for iot and love for tinkering around with hardware.As i have mentioned above i have a lot of experience in sysadmin/devop side of things.These things came naturally to me as a teenager and and i would enjoy working on this project and pour in all of the hardwork and passion required.I do like reading weather charts,graphs and radar data so this was the first gsoc idea that caught my eye.


As mentioned above i am proficient in most of the concepts that are going to be utilised in this project.In case i cant contact my mentor due to some reason,i can always turn to my experienced faculty of my college and my family members since everyone in the extended family is a software engineer.Reddit and stackexchange are always there to help,i have learned a lot from both sites and lastly google.

There are things that can go wrong like sensors not working,mentor being busy and medical emergencies like food poising.Thus my plan is to start asap once accepted than to wait for later.Sensors going kaput can be replaced quickly since i have check on my local amazon and ebay and almost everything seems to be available and since i live in major city of india express next day delivery wont be a problem.


The weather station shall be beneficial to students,teachers and researchers who are currently plagued by the cost of commercial hardware available.Even if researchers with large amount of funds do have acess to equipment they still have to spend more money to retrieve it after deployment.Where as given the cost,size and portability of this project it can be airdropped,used and forgotten about.Transporting,storing it would be easy on aircraft's,ships that already have limited space and often researchers have to sacrifice supplies for equipment.Can also be strapped to drones to be deployed since the weight is negligible.

What community members speak -

   Great project for the Aspiring Weather Scientist.
                           Michael Welling(m_w) 
   A working/documented FOSS implementation would be a huge
   plus for both the open source and weather communities.
                              Steve Arnold(nerdboy) 

and the best one award goes to...

   I'll be tempted to build one!
         Jonathan Cameron(jic23)
      • Mentors!!! please add your Quote here.***


Is there anything else we should have asked you?