Cayla, The Redweb Labs PA

I hacked a Cayla doll with a Raspberry Pi and had her read out Google Calendar events.

09 April 2015

This post has been migrated from its original home to here. It originally lived at this location.

Meet Cayla

Cayla is a child’s doll that is able to respond to questions and strike up a conversation. You may recognise Cayla, she was in the news earlier this year because she’d been hacked.

We thought we could use Cayla to ease some of our notification woes. At times it seems almost impossible to have ten minutes of peace and focus without a device buzzing, vibrating, pinging, lighting up and trying to grab your attention in some way.

New wearable devices such as the Apple watch promise a future of glanceable, less intrusive notifications. But at the same time, an extra buzz or vibration could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and could easily lead to notification overload.

I’ve turned a lot of my notifications off completely, and we’ve been talking of ways of making some more friendly, more interesting or more welcome.

So we connected Cayla to our Google calendars and asked her to let us know when we have meetings coming up. She’s a hard worker, with great attention to detail. We think she’ll become a very valued member of our team.

How she works

At her simplest, Cayla is a Bluetooth speaker, and can be paired with any device that can stream audio. We paired her with a Raspberry Pi, gave here a new voice using eSpeak, and put words in her mouth via a shared Google calendar