RoomE (Star Trek like Voice-Controlled room)

Sign in to queue


Today's inspirational project shows that the future might not be so far away...

Frog Makes Star Trek’s Voice-Controlled Computers A Reality

Those are iconic words to any Star Trek fan--it’s the preferred drink of Captain Picard, as ordered from the Enterprise’s always-listening computer system. They also represent a vision of voice-activated, ubiquitous computing interfaces that took hold in sci-fi books and film nearly 70 years ago.

It’s taken a long time for our world to sync up to Picard’s, but with the advent of Kinect and voice recognition systems, it’s finally happening. "Writers from Heinlein to Doctorow envisioned a far more heads-up, cooperative, and simple way of engaging with technology," explain a team of Frog technologists behind RoomE, a heads-up computing project. “We think we’ve also reached a point in our technological evolution that will allow many of these visions to become real.“ Devised and built by Frog Fellow Jared Ficklin, RoomE is one of the first working examples of a type of ubiquitous computing interface only imagined for decades.


Installed at Frog’s Austin offices, RoomE’s hardware is all off-the-shelf: two Kinects provide an array of voice and motion sensors, while a series of projectors are positioned to turn any surface into a screen. The software is custom-built, using Microsoft Speech Recognition Engine, Computer Vision, and the Kinect SDK. “A lot of people seem to be working on various pieces, but no one has yet to combine them,” says Ficklin. “That’s one reason we had to build one for ourselves.” On YouTube, Ficklin uploads videos of himself pointing to certain lamps in an office and, in a friendly Texas lilt, telling RoomE to “turn on those lights.” He also turns them back on with a hand motion and then orders takeout from Yelp, tweets, controls the thermostat, and checks out the CCTV feed from the backyard--all using voice commands. "RoomE leverages the elegance of context," the team at Frog explains. "The system knows who is in the room and what is in the room via computer vision. Therefore when the command is issued, RoomE calculates where the command came from, and, by putting the context together, the results can be placed where they best serve the user."


Read more about RoomE here. Or, for those interested in building their own system, the team has published a great cookbook-style guide (PDF).

Project Information URL:


The Discussion

  • User profile image

    Very nice. This is a good start and it shows great potential. The magic is in hiding the technology and simply showing the good stuff. Simplicity takes time and you did it nicely.
    Looking forward to seeing more of your work. Cheers

Add Your 2 Cents