The Balena team is remote-first, and almost all of us are working remotely. That has a lot of upsides, but there are also some downsides, such as most communication going on in the team chat. Thought I put together a small project that makes it feel more like having a watercooler discussion going on nearby, to have a more “lively” environment even for those who are remote. Not sure if I’ve succeeded with the environment, but here’s the project nonetheless
A demo of the result is in this video. The speakers are connected to a Raspberry Pi 3, that runs the project, while in the left corner there’s my laptop and the regular chat notifications. When there’s a message (and you listen to the video with voice enabled ), you will hear most messages read out:
The voice is pretty robotic, and would have to tune it for sure to be less creepy but the basic concept seems to work with our chat system. When recorded the video it wasn’t a very busy time, it will be interesting to keep it running more in the future.
The code is here:
It’s using a node.js library to talk to our chat system, and uses Festival for speech synthesis.
What do you think? Would your own team like a robotic watercooler?