Raspberry Pi adds vision to Google’s AIY project


Google AIY Vision

Following the Artificial Intelligence for the AIY Voice Kit, here comes Google’s flavour of Artificial Intelligence for the AIY Vision Kit.

Think of AIY as “DIY”, but involving Artificial intelligence. The hardware, which you assemble yourself, is described as an affordable, hackable, intelligent camera.

The intelligence bit comes courtesy of the use of TensorFlow (machine learning models), letting you build an image recognition device that can see and identify objects.

Raspberry Pi Zero W

This time, however – based on user feedback apparently – it’s designed to work with the smaller Raspberry Pi Zero W (rather than the Raspberry Pi 3) and runs its vision algorithms on-device so no cloud connection is required.

The vision element is actually based on an the the VisionBonnet is  board. Google writes:

The VisionBonnet is an accessory board for Raspberry Pi Zero W that features the Intel Movidius MA2450, a low-power vision processing unit capable of running neural networks. This will give makers visual perception instead of image sensing. It can run at speeds of up to 30 frames per second, providing near real-time performance.

Google VisionBonnet


The kit includes the VisionBonnet, a cardboard outer shell, an RGB arcade-style button, a piezo speaker, a macro/wide lens kit, flex cables, standoffs, a tripod mounting nut and connecting components.

See below.

google AIY Vision kit

Note: You’ll also need a Raspberry Pi camera 2 and a blank SD card (at least 4 GB).

You can see assembly instructions online.

Bundled with the software image are three neural network models:

  • A model based on MobileNets that can recognize a thousand common objects.
  • A model for face detection capable of not only detecting faces in the image, but also scoring facial expressions on a “joy scale” that ranges from “sad” to “laughing.”
  • A model for the important task of discerning between cats, dogs and people.


What could you use the AIY Vision Kit to achieve? Google suggests challenging applications such as playing music when someone enters a room, sending a text when your car leaves the driveway or even recognising different types of food…

In terms of availability, AIY Vision Kits will be available in December, with online pre-sales at Micro Center starting now. It is priced at $44 online dollars.

A free Android app is “coming soon”, says Google, to help you control the device.

AIY Projects

Google first launched “AIY Projects” back in May, which it described as do-it-yourself artificial intelligence for Makers.

It then relaunched the voice recognition kit for Raspberry Pi in September, after initial stocks had immediately sold out, with demand surpassing expectations.


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