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I was approached last week by TechWeek to take part in a competition to design an office device. My device is a fairly simple one, maybe not to make, but certainly to use.

What is it?

The iPIckU - Techweek Office Gadget ChallengeIt’s the iPIckU, a RaspberryPi based device to help you pick a volunteer for the job that nobody wants.  The device consists of a button, a finger print scanner, a small mic and a speaker.

How does it work?

To operate it, the first person presses the button and scans his or her finger and passes it along to the next person. The last person presses the button again to finish scanning all the participants. Each time a person scans, the iPIckU will check if he or she is known.  If this is not the case, the user will be prompted to say their name, which will be sampled and stored on the device. If the person is known, a previously recorded sample of them saying their name will be played.  The iPIckU will play that person’s sample with their name. After the final button push, the iPIckU’s Random Volunteering System™ will pick a victim and play the sample of them stating their name.

How will it be implemented?

The tough part will be the finger print scanner. A time-saver would be a unit that can do most of the hard work for me by identifying the print, or at least returning some kind of cryptographic hash that can be matched against an identity database.  A regular USB mic will be used to record the sound using one of a myriad of recording utilities for Linux.  Replaying the sound can be done through the RasPi’s audio-out and a small speaker. The button will be handled by a simple GPIO pin, as will the various status LEDs. A pot meter can be used to control the volume of the speaker.

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