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Elite Dangerous Ship Assistant Powered by Alexa [video] (youtube.com)
77 points by rcarmo 252 days ago | hide | past | web | 47 comments | favorite

It's mentioned briefly in the article but take a look at how much has been achieved already on controlling Elite via voice without needing Alexa: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6SECeLL3hE

And with Mr Shatner himself providing the voiceover.

More here: http://www.hcsvoicepacks.com/

Disclaimer: I just bought this. I'm waiting for my HOTAS flightstick to arrive then I'm donning my Vive to spend some quality time with Kirk in VR.

(Voice control is of particular relevance to VR as you can't see the keyboard. Any games with complex control schemes suffer greatly. Elite, War Thunder and DCS spring to mind but it probably applies to some RTS games too. Voice seems like the most obvious addition as it maintains the sense of immersion. Strangely - it's currently very underutilized in VR)

The video you linked; the voice assistant sounded faster than Alexa.

Gamers typically use VoiceAttack[1] for voice control in gaming. It uses the built in Windows 10/8/7? speech recognition system and layers macros and basic programming on top of it.

[1] http://voiceattack.com/

Yep. The Kirk thing is based on VoiceAttack if that wasn't clear.

Shatner? That seems great. But I'd probably prefer George Takei.

"Mr. Sulu, warp speed!"

Elite is the galactic time sink. I used to play it on Amiga when i was younger. Reached Elite, lost childhood. Then as I got older I used to play it on my Palm V. Got very far, lost productivity. Today I play dangerous and try to adult myself into limiting my sessions into one mission a sitting. Ok, maybe two, sometimes three. I fear having something like this will disconnect me from the world too much. Nonetheless, great job!

I have a few hundred hours in E:D, but haven't played in the last few months. It's an amazing flight sim (I do have a full HOTAS setup) and runs like an absolute dream in VR, but the missions system and MMO aspects are very lacking.

In other words, it's an amazing galaxy that still somehow feels empty after awhile. Even if they never improved multiplayer with their instancing system, I think single player could be saved with more curated/hand-written content in the core star systems. Like, an actual narrative of missions that adds some life to a few select planets and factions.

I think Frontier did an amazing job with the flight model and environmental details (sound design is especially amazing in ways both subtle and obvious). But the actual gameplay feels about 80% complete. Unfortunately, this is true for every one of the updates/expansions as well, so I'm not sure I can ever expect that to change.

It's an amazing game that I would not recommend to others. Very strange.

I was the same with Elite as a kid (although I never actually reached 'Elite'!). There was something about that game that made it so immersive. I wasn't just playing a game, for a few hours a day I was a hard-bitten space trader.

When I first heard about Elite Dangerous I was fascinated. Everything from the original game but with modern graphics to make it look the way it always deserved to. I genuinely feared how much of time sink it could become, and decided to stay away. I still watch the videos on YouTube sometimes!

My personal gripe with Elite Dangerous is that the initial learning curve is a pain in the ass. I'm all for escalating challenge -- especially if it means that the jump from "hey, this is fun to play around with" to "I'm out in the border regions, alone, looking for adventure" is intense -- but with Elite Dangerous, I felt like the starting experience dropped me WAY into the deep end of the galactic pool, without much in the way of explanation about the "why" or "how".

You're missing out. Its got a learning curve just like the original but its easier for us who grew up with it. The game is as good as Elite was back then. And they keep adding stuff so there is a "story" element to it. Its incredible. Limit yourself friend, but still, go for it. The galaxy powers need you :)

Showing my age here but I remember spending many many hours playing it on the BBC B.

How many years off are we to truly conversational computer talk? The prompt 'pings' get in the way of the flow.

When will I be able to just talk to my computer and have it know I'm done and respond, with a 'ping' 'pong' system?

I don't even use my car's voice commands because it's really slow to use while driving. I would love to just say: "Hey text my wife I'll be home in 10 minutes" and have my car respond.

"Okay Google, text Marianne and say I'll be home in ten minutes". "Sending a message to Marianne, saying I'll be home in ten minutes. Send?" "Yes." "Sending."

I love Google voice assistant. My phone's mic is unusually bad though, so if you imagine all of the above with me learning forward and shouting at my phone... ;)

On the flip side it can be maddeningly stupid. I have two Tom's in my contacts. one is regularly texted and called and other very, very rarely so. When I try to use voice to text Tom, it asks me which one. Every time. This adds a lot of interaction and time and honestly makes using the phone touchscreen faster and more pleasant.

I have the Google Home and my kid loves the Ghostbusters song. For whatever reason if you ask Home to play Ghostbusters you need, first, to specify the song not the movie, even though I have no Netflix integration setup. Then when it gets it correct it will only play the instrumental version for some bizarre reason. Weird, its clear the Home engineers are Ghostbusters fans as you can ask Home "Who you gonna call" and it gives some humorous canned responses, but somehow they can't get playing the Ghostbusters song correct.

Worse, because I have Google Play Music, there's some kind of licensing limit with Home. If I have Home playing music then my desktop PC refuses to play any youtube content, not play music, but unrelated videos. I can't watch any youtube videos unless I log out. Its incredible how bad the usability here. Buying a device for your kitchen shouldn't make all your computers be unable to play videos.

My wife has 2 mobile phone numbers, one which I call every day (it's set as the contact default) and another which I only call occasionally when she's travelling internationally. Yet when I use "OK Google" voice to call or text her it asks me which number to use every time. Terrible user experience.

Have you thought of renaming the less-called one to Thomas? :D It's a bad solution, sure, but it is a solution...

That's what I ultimately did. I just named him Tom2 or somesuch.

Do you use a case with your phone? I've found a case that's ever so slightly too big causes the mic on my phone to be basically unusable, as any recording made with the case on is mostly covered by random pops from the phone sliding around by a tiny amount inside the case.

I do have a thick double-layer case on the phone, but it's a very snug fit.

I just called the Skype echo test service to have a listen to what my mic actually outputs. It's pretty bad! The sound is very muffled and almost inaudible unless I cup my hand over the mic and speak clearly. Removing the case doesn't seem to make any difference.

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact, if anybody's wondering which phone not to buy for regular phone calls :) I don't really mind too much as I only make phone calls once in a blue moon, but it would be nice to be able to use voice assistant more.

I have had several water proof phones, and that typically happens when the phone have gotten wet and then dried.

It seems that with a bit of bad luck, the mic can get clogged up if a drop of water ends up in it.

Try to hold the phone in running water so the mic gets wet, and then carefully blow out the remaining drop of water.

Ah! Good tip, I'll try that. Cheers :)

There will be refinements (eg, faster on-device speech recognition), but it's going to continue being a precarious construction of crude hacks until we have strong AI. Don't expect that any time soon.

I hope Amazon picks up on this. Alexa and Sci-Fi Games are a match made in heaven!

Great hacking OP! well done!

That's a fantastic idea. Actually, Alexa could serve as a built-in voice assistant in a lot of games if it fits the setting. To me it seems like an impressive and actually useful feature, not just a gimmick, to developers and users alike.

From the top of my head it would shine in games like Metal Gear Solid 5.

Does Amazon advertise a use-case like this? I think they should. Considering that they are involved with the Cryengine it even makes more sense.

Hmm. Interface it with Kerbal Space Program and a mod like MechJeb.

"Alexa, launch to orbit at 120km."

"Alexa, deploy all solar panels."

"Alexa, match planes with target and plot an intercept."

"Alexa, orient the ship in a Sun reference frame facing down, zero degree roll." (Can I call that "reference frame Sun-Down-Zero for short?)

"Alexa, switch to atomic engines and plot a bi-elliptic transfer to Moho at the next window where total delta-V is under 6 kilometers per second. Then aerobrake to an equatorial orbit at 60km, plot rendezvous with Fuel Depot M50, and dock."

> "I'm sorry, Dave, Moho doesn't have an atmosphere so I can't aerobrake." (ship flies off on an impact trajectory with the Sun)

hmm ... okay maybe that's just a little too complex :b

> "Alexa, launch to orbit at 120km."

> Warning. You forgot to add batteries. And parachutes.

That would have saved me a few missions.

The problem with that is it requires information from the game (some of those commands), i was working on something similar for star citizen and was setting up screen scraping to get data (but insufficient interest, beta testers and 0 sales after 6 months kinda killed that project).

Basically think of these types of systems (that's voice attack i believe, i saw this video a while ago) as macros triggered via voice - useful for space combat (shields forward, slide left(for 6 degree of freedom flight) etc).

It's mostly there. The MechJeb extension does 95% of that stuff already. It won't plot aerobrakes except for landing, and it only does Hohmann transfers and not bi-elliptic (but unless you're going Eeloo to Moho there's really no advantage to be had) and it doesn't really manage different sets of engines, but it easily could be extended to do so.

It can launch to specific orbits, compute orbital transfers with specific delta-V budgets through a GUI interface with a time/dV heatmap, and it will gladly deploy your solar panels (but not retract them), and it can orient your craft.

(Oh, and you need to explicitly pick out which docking ports to use.)

If only it did a better job at auto-tuning its PID parameters to match the available control authority, you'd be set. :b

Huh, i'd love to see how their doing that - question though - is it from a specific place only? or are they screen scraping?

I've gotten a lot more into this sort of tech lately, after a started getting requests for it :D

It's not screen scraping, certainly. Here's some of the code; if you can figure out where vesselState is coming from, you'll know: https://github.com/MuMech/MechJeb2/blob/master/MechJeb2/Mech...

Hey thanks, ill look into that.

At first I thought he'd integrated using Alexa Voice Service and his headset mic. What he did is still quite impressive, but hopefully for round 2 he'll try out AVS and drop the need for Amazon hardware.

It would work for games like WOT and WOW World Of Tanks World of Warships to issue commands to the crew.

This title is rather less confusing game when you realize there's a game called Elite Dangerous. I had no idea what this was about but was curious...

I made a couple of replies to some comments, but i thought i would do a little post of details about something like this.

I worked on a similar system for star citizen, using the inbuilt windows voice recog system.

At it's core, systems like this are primarily voice activated macro's. They are a lot more useful for twitch/combat based games (specifically flight simulators).

I would listen to microphone input, do a comparison for a specific string and emulate a keyboard press(or a combination of them for x amount of time) based on what was said. (Mouse too some times - although i spoke to tech support for star citizen, and had to be careful of how complex some commands could be, to ensure i did not break the eula).

Side note: I have stopped production of mine until star citizen gets a little further along (and i am also working on a natural speaking system, to detect what you mean for the system to do, instead of specific strings - eg if i said show shields, show me the shields, lets see the shields it would differentiate between that and say putting the shield power forward).

The how to link in the description doesn't seem to be working but it's here:


Neat hack! It's awesome that Amazon have opened there API to the degree that you can implement these kinds of things. Hope Siri does the same someday (though I think it's unlikely).

Very cool, yet surprisingly boring to watch.. ;)

Sounds like a great project: Implement this for Star Citizen.

I did, i couldn't get enough beta testers, and zero purchases after 6 months. Now i just use it for myself (also mine had on screen overlays and other advantages).

grabs the mouse: hello computer.

A real pleasure to watch, great job!

I like the part where Alexa asked him what's next

OK. That's cool.

Seriously. I think its cool.

this is depressing


Space makes me feel super insignificant in the universe.

Then add Alexa's pretty much soulless monotone voice.

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