How to Build a Smart Home System Like Mark Zuckerberg’s Jarvis

December 20, 2016 | Rob LaPointe

From Google Home to Amazon Echo, Home AI systems are all the rage right now. These require “Smart Speakers” and tend to function mostly with devices that are Smart Home-ready (or have apps that provided added value like Smart Home connection). While these devices are really cool, there are limitations, namely that for Echo or Home to hear you, you need to be in the house.

But recently, Mark Zuckerberg showed us that you don’t need this hardware. Over the past year or so (for a sum total of about 100 hours) Zuckerberg has spent his off time creating a massively intelligent Smart Home System that he controls with nothing more than his computer and his Smart Phone.

This AI system, named Jarvis in an homage to Tony Stark and Iron Man, is possibly the most intelligent of the three Smart Home systems. While many of the features Mr. Zuckerberg discusses in his post are currently available with either Alexa or Home, there is one big advantage Jarvis has that the other two don’t: according to Zuckerberg, Jarvis is capable of recognizing his taste in music.

This might seem like a minor thing, but it isn’t. In fact, it’s long been an issue for AI systems due to the complexity that music often presents. Sure, there are algorithms that can pull out similar bands in the same genre (both Spotify and Pandora are examples of these) but Zuckerberg’s system is a little more complex.

First, it can play songs based off a prompt as ambiguous as request for “light” music, or by asking for something similar to a preferred artist. But the really cool thing here is that Jarvis can recognize if it is Mark or his wife Priscilla who is asking; this allows it to play music in keeping with the tastes of the asker.

What Jarvis really proves is that your don’t need the hardware associated with Alexa and Google Assistant. Jarvis is controlled via a custom Messenger Bot for text control, and a custom iOS app for speech control (plus a pretty cool door camera that recognizes faces!). Jarvis shows that a single coder with knowledge of common Programming languages like Python, PHP, and iOS’ Objective C.

All of SDI’s programmers are more than skilled in these languages; and the other technologies Zuckerberg used are tools our coders use, day in and day out. In other words, entrepreneurs don’t even need Zuckerberg’s undeniably vast coding skill; all you need is to hire the right development team.

So let’s talk about the two big programming methods Mr. Zuckerberg used and how they can be applied to any AI Smart Home System.

Natural Language Processing

NLP is one of the underlying premises behind any AI system. It’s how any AI can recognize what a user is asking of it. Not necessarily the actual speech recognition itself (Zuckerberg did note some problems with his system here; never fear though, recent advances in the tech give us a step up over where Zuckerberg was there a year ago), but how humans actually converse.

For instance, when you ask Google where to find the best tacos, it understands that you mean locally, and that best means best tasting. That’s NLP. One of the best examples of this presented by Mr. Zuckerberg was the need for Jarvis to recognize that the living room and the family room were two names for the same thing.

Additionally, Smart Home systems present other challenges for AI not present with Smartphone Digital Assistants (Siri, and the Google Assistant on your Android devices): Smart Homes have multiple users. It needs to understand that when I say “turn on the lights in my room” it knows that it’s me, and not my partner or my child. This is possible, but requires professional coders with years of training.

The Bot Interface

While using Facebook’s own Messenger platform was clearly self promotional, it was still a clever move on Zuckerberg’s part. Bots, also called Micro-apps, are essentially very skimmed down apps that perform routine basic tasks. Many actual apps incorporate dozens of these little guys for the simpler tasks.

Using a Bot here was clever because it takes care of coding those simple routine things that can drive a coder mad. And, as Zuckerberg points out, Facebook’s own Messenger Dev kit provides a perfect tool for creating bots. We should point out that Bots can also be leveraged in many other ways, like helping to promote local businesses. In fact, all on their own, Bots represent a really awesome money making opportunity – contact us to learn more.

Silicon Valley’s AI Developers

SDI knows how to build apps, websites, and custom software programs with Natural Language Processing, Speech Recognition, and other advanced AI algorithms. We can use AI to build anything from Smart Home systems like Alexa, Assistant, and Jarvis to improved Business Analytics that will grow your Startup beyond your dreams. To get started, give us a call at 408.805.0495/408.621.8481 – or click to contact us!

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