Farmington High student creates his own ‘Alexa’

Farmington High junior Karthikeya Thota spent part of his summer learning computer programming and created his own Alexa-like chatbot.

Fueled by his desire to understand how Alexa functions, Thota began researching how the Amazon device actually works. He wanted his device to have a more human-like voice.

Karthikeya Thota
Karthikeya Thota (Farmington Public Schools)

Thota spent two months gaining advanced programming skills in Python and using Raspberry Pi 3 (a small-sized computer with less processing power and memory) technology. He used Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to create his chatbot.

Named “Python,” the device will give you the date, time, weather report, news for the day, and much more. Each new skill requires additional programming and testing.

Thota said his favorite part of the creation process was listening to Python speak to him.

“Every time I gave it a new skill, I had to test it,” Thota said. “I would say ‘Python’ and it would respond ‘I am ready.’ A voice coming from a Raspberry Pi would chime in and it gave me goosebumps every time I heard its voice.”

Thota continues to work on the ability to control Python from a laptop or phone, face detection, controlling lights and television, and training it to use a human voice. Once fully developed, Thota would like to make the software available to the public.

A past Superintendents Award of Excellence winner, Thota is one of Farmington Public Schools’ outstanding technology students.

“This year, Karthikeya also became a member of our CyberPatriot CTSO (Career-Technical Student Organization),” said CTE IT/Business teacher Jason Canfield. “He has a very bright future ahead. I am excited to see how much more he will accomplish by the end of his senior year.”

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