Giving people the ability to control objects with their voice has typically been the domain of big tech companies: Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple’s Siri. Shenzhen-based hardware company Seeed Studio wants to change that.

“You can take a plant and make it something you can talk to,” says Xiaobo Ye, the product manager of ReSpeaker. “Now, raising a plant will be like raising a dog or cat. It can tell me if it’s thirsty or, ‘I’m okay, I don’t need to drink water.'”

On Tuesday, Seeed Studio launched ReSpeaker on Kickstarter. About the size of a hockey puck, ReSpeaker is a hardware module that can make objects respond to voice commands and queries. Depending on what the user wants to control – an air conditioner, a stereo, a coffee machine – ReSpeaker can be connected via USB or wired in directly. Once connected, the hardware module can be programmed to carry out different actions, like making coffee or scheduling a meeting room.

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Eva Xiao

Eva Xiao is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. Contact her at eva.xiao@technode.com or evawxiao (wechat & twitter).