How to connect Raspberry Pi 3 to external bluetooth speakers

The most recent Raspberry Pi 3 and up come with integrated bluetooth. Which is nice. It lowers the cost and power usage and allows you to connect in and out of the Pi via any bluetooth device.

But for the specific instance where you simply want to broadcast sound to an external speaker there are a couple of ways to do it.

If you are running Raspbian (which is what comes standard) then you can likely use integrated bluetooth connection via a variety of sound management apps. But what if you are using your Pi from the Command Line or via a program? How do you manage bluetooth?

An integrated bluetooth connection dashboard allows you to push audio to any nearby headset or speaker, including your on-board BiBli speakers.

I’m not going to fully recap the first method I found which includes the use of the bluetoothctl program which you can run from the command line. Basically in that instance you’d just be running some scanning and pairing commands while you open pairing on the nearby speaker. It might work. I found it frustrating. The issue is that you’re likely going to have some volume management issues unless you get into additional sound configurations which can be reset with HDMI inputs and other scenarios.

None of this would work for our BiBli users so we added a simple bluetooth management tool as part of BiBli OS 2.0.

It allows you to connect your Pi or swarm of Pis to any nearby headset or speakers.

(Note: Order an SD card here and get the rest of the BiBli OS to play with at the same time.)

8 places to allocate $1B in U.S. robotics infrastructure

There are some smart people involved in robotics. Throughout the United States go to any University and most high schools and you’re likely to find some sort of tinkering, coding, soldering and controlling some sort of robotics contraption.

What’s happening is that products like the Arduino and Raspberry Pi have opened up access to low-cost tiny computers, leagues of students have spun up around robotics competitions and it’s finally become somewhat accessible to prototype new ideas.

Which is great because robotics represents a  massive wave of fun, breakthroughs and revenue. Combined with Artificial Intelligence and a whole connected world robots educate, entertain and help us in lots of ways.

But how do you make money in robotics and what’s really needed to win in the industry. 

Entrepreneur Mark Cuban recently suggested to President-elect Donald Trump to consider spending $1B of his proposed $1Trillion infrastructure budget towards robotics. As a founder of a robotics company I of course think that’s a great idea.

However I also really think Mr. Cuban has a point. Let’s think about what infrastructure really means in this coming century. In a sense robotics infrastructure can be education and common tools as much as it is factories and roads.

I do think robotics represent an economic and scientific opportunity that will dwarf the Internet industry.

With successes and failures during both ‘booms’ for nothing else I’ve earned a unique perspective. What I see in robotics is a tremendous blossoming of innovation. Maker spaces and low-cost access and old engineers teaching young engineers. It’s great. But what I don’t see are lots of people making lots of money with truly advanced, easy-to-use robots. I see kids on phones controlling toys and I see very expensive research robots. I don’t see true robots being successfully sold into homes.

The reason is they don’t yet exist. Not from China. Not from Europe. Not from Russia. And definitely not from the United States. Both from a technological  (power, CPU, intelligence) and from a consumer perspective (easy, truly useful) they aren’t quite there yet. Which is great. It means there’s still time for leaders to emerge. And there are some leaders. Softbank. iRobot. Sphero. These are all organizations that are already winning in their markets.  And that doesn’t include medical or industrial robotics which are just massive areas for cost savings and new breakthroughs.

8 areas to spend $1B in Robotics Infrastructure

1. K-12 Education: There is a big push already for STEM and to implement things like Design Thinking and robotics clubs into schools. But it’s focused in affluent areas and there are still lots of barriers.  And frankly much of it misses entrepreneurship and product development which is what we need. The teachers and administrators need people not just money and hardware. It’s hard to create and implement new programs particularly in areas where there isn’t sufficient training.

Let’s first increase access and make sure everyone everywhere can get a hold of the basic building blocks of robotics and machine learning. At the same time teach the basics of Linux including networks and network security.

We’ve found Public Libraries to be great hubs because  they open and somewhat more informal areas for communities but they aren’t staffed to implement robotics innovation either. They can buy the materials but it takes people who know robotics to teach robotics.

2. Entrepreneurs, Artists AND Engineers: The wheels, beeping, sensing and thinking isn’t what makes a robot a robot. It’s the character. It’s how we feel about the robot which is important. That on top of usability and customer-driven product development is what is needed most. Engineers tend to try to solve the most complex problem, not the customer problem and more creative people tend to not think of themselves as hardware engineers.

3. Work WITH China:  I’m not a politician nor do I understand totally all aspects of international trade. But I’ve had the good fortune of working with some brilliant collaborators from China. So that’s my experience and perspective. Maybe we should look at our relationship with China as a huge asset.  How can we work together to innovate even faster. The Chinese has been perfecting their infrastructure for 5,000 years and it’s efficient and full of talent.

How can this relationship be improved and optimized for profits, the environment, and in a way that benefits the employees and shareholders of all parties?

4. Light manufacturing: Ok so you have a product that is working. A successful Kickstarter…pilot customers and more waiting. But you don’t yet have thousands of orders. How do you make leap from maker space idea to the shelves of Target? When they say hardware is hard this is what they are referring to. This is a gap that is hard to cross without a significant highly speculative capital outlay.

The truth is there are quite a few steps and phases in between prototype and mass market and this is a huge opportunity for innovation.  Laser cutting, 3D printing, assembly and packaging. Hardware startups require places they can solder. Try to find a CoWorking space in your town where you can set-up an assembly and soldering line.  If you think about it this is a major barrier that didn’t exist during the dot com boom.

5. Intellectual Capital: As and Global IP Champion Recipient and someone who has several patents and trademarks I can say this process we have in this country is amazing. But it needs to be smoothed out. And I have zero confidence a small U.S. company or individual can hope to protect IP overseas let alone here against the Internet not to mention big companies with teams of lawyers.

Let’s simplify IP management globally and make this a bargaining chip with other countries.

Stealing someone’s concept and then using legal power or international borders to profit from it should be illegal and immoral. How can we open up but also monetize the market for IP sort of like the music industry. If Getty Images can scan and fine people who use images across the entire web we can as a planet figure out how to truly commoditize and open up intellectual capital.

6. Federal Funding for Small Organizations: Grants.gov and SAM are great online resources. And it’s amazing how many grant opportunities are out there. But to a small school, library or business getting a significant federal grant is hard. Not only are the applications very time consuming to an already busy staff, a smaller organization doesn’t have the research capacity that many grants require. And while research is important – the Universities are who drive many of the new truly breakthrough technologies – it’s the small organization who faces the end user or customer and who often needs the funding the most to move forward.

7. Collaborate so we can focus on the real work: This doesn’t mean copy each other. And it doesn’t mean there isn’t a competitive robotics industry. Just the opposite. It simply means lets share the components of our technologies which can be easily integrated.  Maybe a national standard for common basic robot controls and interconnectivity. Let’s open up time and resources to work on robot personalities and artificial intelligence. These algorithms and code sets and data models are what makes a robot valuable.

8. Fuel existing growth: There are some great organizations and companies already out there with some amazing products. Put in place a way for them to identify themselves and then fund and support the ones that will have the most impact. Empower local workforce and manufacturing task forces to map and help drive collective growth for their existing resources. Cut through some of the red tape and make it easier for governments to fund startups with budgets they already have.

So that’s 8 things we can start with to jump-start the robotics innovation here in the United States – an beyond.

-Jalali Hartman

1st Annual BiBli Engineering Awards

This year we had the opportunity to work with a talented young group of kids from the Boulder Public Library to create and build a fun BiBli Swarm. The rules were simple: The robots had to use the BiBli OS and at least 1 Googley Eye. The robots had to also make people laugh or entertain them.

Students built and demoed their robots for the #HourOfCode Celebration being held in Boulder as part of Computer Science Education Week. The used BiBli Developer Kits pre-loaded with BiBli OS v 1.5 for Raspberry Pi.

The challenge dubbed “RobotJoy” was fun to participate and amazing to watch. Each student presented their robot on stage at the end of the week and wowed the audience with their colorful and creative functional BiBli robots. The event was meant to be fun and to introduce kids to swarm robotics but we also wanted to recognize some exceptional effort, design and engineering:

Drumroll…the 2016 BiBli Engineering Award Recipients:

Best Engineering
This award goes to the overall best designed robot including character, use of LED in the design and overall efficiency and function as an actual robot. Weight, materials, design and electronics were all factors in this year’s winning robot.

The 2016 award goes to Rainbow!

Best Character
Character matters in robotics. In fact it may be even more important than the actual engineering in some cases. There is an identity to the machine that makes it personable and something more than it really is. The Best Character award was a difficult one to judge. All of the designs were far better than we anticipated and a big round of applause to everyone.

This Year’s winner is “Scientist BiBli” (far right)…

We picked this because it not only displayed a robot character it had an accompanying story and persona. Well done!


RobotJoy Award
Robots are fun and they should make us laugh, encourage us and entertain. This was not one of the original awards but we’re adding it because this robot perfectly illustrated the spirit behind the original concept – robots that make us laugh.

This year’s Robot Joy Award goes to BiBi the Robot Elf. The ‘ugly sweater’ put it over the top! Well done everyone and start thinking about your ideas for next year. Hint: there will be an award for “Best Swarm”.

BiBli Developer Program

A low-cost powerful robotics operating system for Raspberry Pi

Turn any Raspberry Pi 3 into a roaming, talking, wi-fi connected social robot. There are 2 options for software installation:

Linux-based Pi compatible operating system
Easy for students ages 8 and up
Integrated web-based control panel
Expandable media library
Allows for an instant connected network of BiBli robots

Works with any 2WD Robot Platform or the BiBli Developer Kit

Purchase Developer Kit | Documentation

joystick speech music stories swarmdash

An integrated bluetooth connection dashboard allows you to push audio to any nearby headset or speaker, including your on-board BiBli speakers.
An integrated bluetooth connection dashboard allows you to push audio to any nearby headset or speaker, including your on-board BiBli speakers.

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Invitation to Trial for BiBli OS 2.0

We’re now accepting developer invite requests to be the first to trial our BiBli OS Version 2.0. BiBli turns any Raspberry Pi 3 into a roaming, talking, media playing Wi-Fi controlled social robot. The cost will be $5 for a download or $19 for a pre-loaded 16GB sd card.