Voice assistants are nothing new, everyone with a smartphone has one in their pocket. But what if you could pick up a retro rotary phone and use that instead? That’s exactly what Zoltan T has done, just like Ryder Damen who published a guide for us on how to turn a rotary phone into a Google assistant with a Raspberry Pi. But in this case, Zoltan has taken the idea a step further by integrating ChatGPT and giving it a multiple accents, including German.
The idea behind Zoltan’s rotary phone ChatGPT voice assistant is to not only accept voice commands but to also have a conversation with the user. To use the phone, pick up the receiver, talk to the assistant and wait for the voice input to parse through ChatGPT. It then generates a custom response with a snazzy German accent to match the manufacturing company of the rotary phone Zoltan is using. The accent can also be changed and Zoltan shows the assistant responding to queries with a French accent. Interestingly, when responding the assistant speaks numerical data in the chosen language, not just with an accent.
Zoltan first developed his rotary phone virtual assistant project back in 2018. He even published an article back then on how he created the project over at Medium. You can explore this tutorial to get an idea of the hardware setup Zoltan is using that led to the project idea we have today.
There are additional details provided by Zoltan that dig into how this rotary phone has been adapted for the project. He’s using a Grandstream HT801 adapter and had to custom solder an RJ11 cable to the original German TAE connection. The adapter is connected to a Raspberry Pi which is responsible for handling the voice input and ChatGPT responses.
The software used to work with ChatGPT is primarily Python-based. Zoltan was kind enough to share all of the code and juicy details over at GitHub for anyone interested in how it works. It has a few specific features enabled but you could always add more by adding the right dependencies.