Sentient Artificial Responsive Agent
Last updated 9 months ago by ztiknl .
ISC · Repository · Bugs · Original npm · Tarball · package.json
$ cnpm install @ztiknl/sara 
SYNC missed versions from official npm registry.
<input> Hi Sara, how are you?
(prompt / response) All systems operational!
<input> How is the weather in (where are we)?
(prompt / response) The current weather in Amsterdam, Netherlands is:
<input> _

Type: Experimental Status: Work in progress Version


This package is currently a work in progress
Do not install via npm install @ztik.nl/sara
Clone or download from Sara @ Github

Github documentation will be the Current/Latest testing build
NPM will be pushed occasionally when there shouldn't be any app-breaking bugs
Many changes are to be expected, do not expect backwards compatibility

Current version: 0.4.1
When the core program is more complete I will start semantic version 1.0.0


  1. What is Sara
  2. Requirements
  3. NPM modules
  4. How to use
  5. Internal Commands
    5.1 Colors
    5.2 Verbose
    5.3 Help
    5.4 Hearing
    5.5 Voice
    5.6 Vision
  6. Regular Expression matches
  7. Layered commands
  8. Plugins
  9. Provided plugins
    9.1 Math
    9.2 Conversation
    9.3 Location
    9.4 Weather
    9.5 XBMC remote
    9.6 Timedate
    9.7 Wikipedia
    9.8 News
    9.8 Translate
    9.8 Games
    9.9 Addressbook (CardDAV)
    9.10 Calendar (CalDAV)
  10. Bootstrap
  11. Audio in/out issues
  12. Other issues
    12.1 Google Cloud APIs
    12.2 Haobosou USB microphone
    12.3 Known
  13. Todo
  14. Long term goals
  15. Credits
  16. Apologies

What is Sara:

Sara is a command prompt, that listens for keyboard input or voice commands
Sara has a voice, and is able to respond to commands through text as well as audio

Sara is my (poor) attempt at making my own Jarvis/Alexa/Hey Google/Hi Bixby/Voice Response System
It runs in Node.js on a Raspberry Pi 3B, but should be able to run on earlier versions as well as other linux distro
It has some internal commands, but can be extended through a self-made plugin system

Hearing works
Voice commands can be sent to the command line for editing, or immediately be processed without user intervention
This option selection is currently hidden away in hearing.js, but will be in the commandline arguments and config.json soon

Voice works
Voice output works, but further testing is required
Different voices (male and female) are now possible, soon there will be an option to select, as well as a way to display a list of voices for each language!

Vision works
All it does is take a picture every 30 minutes using a USB webcam
Pi camera not supported yet, will be supported later
There are object/face detection functions, as well as some other functions (age/expression/gender labeling) but NONE of these functions are connected to the webcam source image yet!
There are NO object/face recognition functions at this moment, but this will be added soon

Sara ignores the following words at sentence start:

can you
will you
would you
could you
tell me
let me know

Sara also ignores the word please and the ? character at the end of commands
After stripping these words, the command is compared to internal commands, and if it doesnt match, it will be compared to a regex string contained in every plugin .json file

Sara listens to the keyword 'Sara'


The hardware stated below is what I am using to build/test/run this project on
It should run on any linux distro, I didn't test but see no reason why it wouldn't
It might run on Mac OS,unable to verify, I do not have any Fruit branded devices
It doesn't run on Windows, Sonus (speech recognition via Google Cloud) doesn't run on Windows


  • A Raspberry Pi (3B tested, older models should work)
    • Keyboard or ssh connection
    • Microphone for voice commands (I use a G11 Touch Induction/Haobosou ~20 euro, excellent results)
    • Audio output device (tv/hdmi or speakers on line-out)
    • Webcam for future object/face recognition modules (I use a HP Webcam HD-4110)
    • SD Card containing Raspbian (latest version is always advisable)
      • Self-powered USBhub is advisable when using USB microphone/webcam


  • Node.js LTS or newest (I am currently running 12.5.0)
  • NPM (I am currently running 6.9.0)
  • aplay and arecord (config audio in/out as default audio devices first)
    sudo apt-get install alsa-utils
  • fswebcam (I installed it, didnt touch a single config file)
    apt-get install fswebcam


  • Google Cloud API key (one key to rule them all!)
    This is free for a certain amount of requests, see Google Cloud APIs for more details
    The same key is used for the translate plugin, speech recognition, generating voices and face/object detection
    Face recognition will be calculated in-app, so it will not make requests to the Google Cloud Vision API
  • newsapi.org API key (optional)
    Free for personal use, used for the news plugin

NPM modules:

"@google-cloud/text-to-speech": "^1.1.3",
"@google-cloud/translate": "^4.1.3",
"@google-cloud/vision": "^1.1.4",
"@tensorflow/tfjs-core": "^1.2.7",
"@tensorflow/tfjs-node": "^1.2.7",
"canvas": "^2.5.0",
"chalk": "^2.4.2",
"country-list": "^2.1.1",
"date-and-time": "^0.8.1",
"dav": "^1.8.0",
"decimal.js": "^10.2.0",
"face-api.js": "^0.20.1",
"geoip-lite": "^1.3.7",
"he": "^1.2.0",
"node-webcam": "^0.5.0",
"play-sound": "^1.1.3",
"public-ip": "^3.1.0",
"rollup": "^1.19.4",
"sonus": "^1.0.3",
"vcard-parser": "^1.0.0",
"weather-js2": "^2.0.2",
"weeknumber": "^1.1.1",
"wiki-entity": "^0.4.3"

How to use:

  1. Clone or download this repo
  2. Inside main folder containing bin.js & package.json, run command: npm install
  3. In folder resources/apikeys/googlespeech.json, add your own Google Cloud Speech API key
  • Start program with command: node bin.js
  • To see the (optional) command line arguments, start program with command: node bin.js --help
  • It is also possible to use a config.json file to force default behaviour

For more information on the Google Cloud Speech API, see:
NPMJS.com/sonus/usage & NPMJS.com/sonus/how-do-i-set-up-google-cloud-speech-api
The Google API key file is located at ./resources/apikeys/googlecloud.json

For more information on how to setup your own custom hotword, see:
NPMJS.com/sonus/usage & NPMJS.com/sonus/how-do-i-make-my-own-hotword
The custom hotword file is located at ./resources/speechrecognition/Sarah.pmdl

Internal commands:

I have tried to keep everything modular, so if something doesn't work on your system, you can disable that function through commandline arguments, config.json options file, or in the app itself
The vision command will be extended with object/face recognition, if I can when I get that to work properly


start/stop colors turns on/off colored responses/prompt


start/stop verbose turns on/off verbose mode
Verbose mode will turn on display of output with a 'data' or 'warn' type


start/stop bootstrap turns on/off bootstrap plugins
bootstrap list displays the currently active bootstrap plugins


help displays the main 'help' section
list help displays a list of all help topics
help <topic> displays help on the topic requested (still needs to be populated)
help <plugin.function> displays help on the requested plugin function (currently placeholders)
add help fill in the form and a new help topic is born!
edit help <topic> find an error in a certain help topic, you can fix it.


start/stop listening turns on/off speech recognition
start/stop hearing same as above


start/stop voice turns on/off text-to-speech
start/stop talking same as above
start/stop speaking same as above
silence stop speaking the current sentence/item
quiet same as above
voice list display a list of all voices for the current language (config.json)
list voice same as above
voices list same as above
list voices same as above


start/stop vision turns on/off timer (30 min) for webcam snapshot to ./resources/vision/frame.png
start/stop watching same as above
Nothing is done with this image at this time, but there are tests being done with detection and recognition...

  • Face/object detection works, but is not connected yet, it will be soon after some more testing
  • Face recognition does not work yet, this will need a more complex neural net to connect the dots between different images

Regular Expression matches:

Sara needs to 'understand' commands, and does this by comparing input to a regular expression found inside each plugin function's .json file



This regular expression matches the following sentences:

what is (-)10(.12) plus/and/+/& (-)10(.12)
what (-)10(.12) plus/and/+/& (-)10(.12) is
how much is (-)10(.12) plus/and/+/& (-)10(.12)
how much (-)10(.12) plus/and/+/& (-)10(.12) is
(-)10(.12) plus/and/+/& (-)10(.12) is
(-)10(.12) plus/and/+/& (-)10(.12)

Because Sara strips starting input, this allows to recognize sentences such as:

Sara can you please tell me what 10 + -9 is?

In the above regex line. most groups are not captured (?:xxx)
The capture fields (-?[0-9]+.?(?:[0-9]+)?) grabs these values and push them back to math.js which includes the function for processing these values
In the above example, math.js will receive an array object containing 3(!) items:
[0] the complete input string, in case the plugin still requires this string.
[1] the first captured group
[2] the second captured group

Therefore, the function math.add will receive these 3 array items, and return the calculation of add x[1] + x[2]
x[0] is always the entire matching regex string
Using the input sentence above, then:

x[0] == "what 10 + -9 is"
x[1] == 10
x[2] == -9

Layered commands:

(I am not a native English speaker, and I am not certain this is the correct term)
Sara is able to process subcommands through the use of parenthesis encapsulation

Sara can you tell me how much is 9 + (10 + 16)?

In this example, Sara will calculate 10 + 16 first, then calculate 9 + 26 afterwards

You can layer as many commands as you need, they will be processed starting with the most outer subcommand first:

11 + (7 + (root of 9))

subcmd: root of 9 = 3
subcmd: 7 + 3 = 10
finalcmd: 11 + 10 = 21

Some examples of what is possible:

((10 + ((root of 9) * (5³))) / 77) * (√9)
how is the weather in (where i am)
translate to german (what is gold)


These are created using (at least) 2 files:

  • The .js file contains all the javascript to deal with request X and push back a result

    The result pushed back can be either a string such as '1999' (example question: 2000-1)
    Or an array containing the text string, and the same string with SSML markup:

    result = ['1999'];
    result[1] = '<say-as interpret-as="cardinal">1999</say-as>';

    More information on SSML markup can be found here

  • The .json file contains the name of the plugin, the name of the module (the .js file name), a Regular Expression string, a small description and explanation (used in help documentation)

      "name": "add",
      "module": "math",
      "regex": "^(?:what|how\\smuch)?\\s?(?:is)?\\s?(-?[0-9]+\\.?(?:[0-9]+)?)\\s?(?:\\+|plus|\\&|and)\\s?(-?[0-9]+\\.?(?:[0-9]+)?)\\s?(?:is)?$",
      "description": "Add x to y",
      "explanation": "This plugin teaches SARA how to calculate the sum of two numbers.\nType '-4 + 4.4' or one of the alternatives and SARA should respond."

    One .js file can contain multiple module.exports functions, each function requires its own .json file


    Regular Expressions in these .json files need special characters to be escaped twice:
    "regex": "^(?:what|how\\smuch)?\\s?(?:is)?\\s?(-?[0-9]+\\.?(?:[0-9]+)?)\\s?(?:\\+|plus|\\&|and)\\s?(-?[0-9]+\\.?(?:[0-9]+)?)\\s?(?:is)?$",

    Since Sara removes certain words from the start of the sentence, all that the regex requires is the intent and if variables need to be passed to the function, one or more working capture groups

    The description and explanation are used in the help <plugin.function> function

Provided plugins:

All commands listed are functional, although some plugins will require adding more commands (math.power, etc)
More plugins are coming, see Todo list for what I'd like to add (if possible)...


what is 7 + 9
10 - 3.3
9 * 4
4 divided by 3
how much is 12 squared
root of 10
what 10³ is


good morning/afternoon/evening/night
how are you
how are you doing
how are you feeling
how are you doing today
how are you feeling at the moment
when were you made
who made you
how were you made
why were you made


where am I
where are you
what city are we in
what time zone are we in
in which province are we
what are your actual coordinates
Which country is this


how is the weather  
how is the weather in/around/near <place>  
what is the weather like in/around/near <place>  
weather forecast  
what is the weather forecast  
what is the weather forecast for <place>  

XBMC remote:

Add connection details to file plugins/xbmc-remote/connection.json (see example file connection_example.json)

stop video/movie/film/playback/episode
stop the video/movie/film/playback/episode
stop this video/movie/film/playback/episode
pause/pause video/movie/film/playback/episode
resume the video/movie/film/playback/episode
continue this video/movie/film/playback/episode
media menu select
media menu back
media menu move up/down/left/right
media menu move up/down/left/right 5x
media menu move up/down/left/right 5*
media menu move up/down/left/right 5 times
media menu move up/down/left/right 5 entries
media menu move up/down/left/right 1 entry
media menu home
media menu info/information
media menu context
media menu submenu


what time is it
what is the date
what year is it
what month is it
what day it is
what is the week number


what is <subject>
more about <subject>


Add newsapi,org api key to file plugins/news/newsorg.json (see example file newsorg_example.json)

news headlines
tech news headlines
news headlines from bbc-news
news headlines in US
news headlines on bitcoin


Add google cloud api key to file resources/apikeys/googlecloud.json (see example file googlecloud_example.json)

translate to french <input>
translate to english <input>
translate to dutch <input>
translate to german <input>



Addressbook (CardDAV):

Add connection details to file plugins/addressbook/connection.json (see example file connection_example.json)

list address book
list address books
list addressbook
addressbook list
search contact <term>

Calendar (CalDAV):

Add connection details to file plugins/calendar/connection.json (see example file connection_example.json)

list calendar
list calendars


By adding .js files to the ./bootstrap folder, you can add background tasks (interval stuff such as data syncs) to SARA
These .js files require 3 module.exports, start() and stop() so that these tasks can be started/stopped, and a status() function which returns a true/false
Bootstrapping can be disabled by command line argument, voice/prompt command and config.json entry

Very basic example of a bootstrap file:

var calsyncactive = false;
module.exports = {
  start: function() {
    console.log('started calendar sync');
    var caldaemon = setInterval(calsync,600000);
    calsyncactive = true;
  stop: function() {
    console.log('stopped calendar sync');
    calsyncactive = false;
  status: function() {
    return calsyncactive;

function calsync() {

Audio in/out issues:

The only advise I can give is to make sure that alsa has the correct in/output device registered
My Raspberry Pi config:

ztik@sara:~/ $ arecord -l
**** List of CAPTURE Hardware Devices ****
>>> card 0: haobosou [haobosou], device 0: USB Audio [USB Audio] <<<
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 1: HD4110 [HP Webcam HD-4110], device 0: USB Audio [USB Audio]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0

I use card 0, device 0 for my audio in (haobosou microphone, cheap and great quality audio)

ztik@sara:~/ $ aplay -l
**** List of PLAYBACK Hardware Devices ****
card 2: ALSA [bcm2835 ALSA], device 0: bcm2835 ALSA [bcm2835 ALSA]
  Subdevices: 7/7
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
  Subdevice #1: subdevice #1
  Subdevice #2: subdevice #2
  Subdevice #3: subdevice #3
  Subdevice #4: subdevice #4
  Subdevice #5: subdevice #5
  Subdevice #6: subdevice #6
>>> card 2: ALSA [bcm2835 ALSA], device 1: bcm2835 IEC958/HDMI [bcm2835 IEC958/HDMI] <<<
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0

I use the HDMI output on my raspi for audio out, so I am using card 2, device 1 here

My config file:

ztik@sara:~/ $ cat ~/.asoundrc
pcm.!default {
  type asym
  playback.pcm {
    type plug
    slave.pcm "hw:2,1"
  capture.pcm {
    type plug
    slave.pcm "hw:0,0"

This solved every issue I had with aplay and arecord
Using these settings I am able to record from the proper input device with the following command:

arecord -d 10 test.wav

and play that recording using:

aplay test.wav

Anything on support beyond this should be requested at alsa/linux forums I guess
Feel free to ask, but don't expect an answer...

Other issues:

Google Cloud APIs:

I understand people can have problems getting through this, so here is a small guide

  1. Set up a Cloud Project
    To set that up, you'll need to create a new project in the Cloud Platform Console
    1.1 Click on 'Create project' at the top menu
    1.2 Enter a name and (optional) organisation
    1.3 Click 'Create'

  2. Enable billing for your project
    Google FAQ on Billing
    2.1 Click on the top left menu (three white dashes), and click the 'Billing' entry
    2.2 Click on 'Create account' if you don't have any

  3. Enable APIs you want to connect with
    You don't have to use them all, if you don't want/need a certain module (voice/speech recognition/vision/translation), don't activate it
    (All these modules can be deactivated, except translate which is a plugin)

  4. Create project key file
    4.1 Open the topleft menu again and go to APIs & Services and click on Credentials
    (should lead you here)
    4.2 Click on 'Create credentials' then on 'Service account key'
    4.3 When prompted to create a new service account select 'Project' -> 'Owner'
    4.4 As the service account, select your project and use JSON key type
    4.5 Close the confirmation and a .json file should be downloaded
    4.6 Copy this file, or its contents to ./resources/apikeys/googlecloud.json
    4.6 Add a checkmark in front of the new Service account key, and click on 'Manage service accounts'
    4.7 Click on your service account, and copy all the information to ./resources/apikeys/googlecloud.json (or use googlecloud_example.json and rename file)

Some details on pricing:

Apart from the Translation API, everything should be testable for free
But don't take my word for it, check the Billing page occasionally!

Haobosou USB microphone:

The microphone I use is a 'C-Media Haobosou G11 Touch Induction' and for a couple of days I have been having problems with it
When connecting the microphone, the blue power indicator would light up, and after 2 seconds it would turn off again
Pressing the touch induction area has no effect, and thus I am left with a disabled mic
It IS recognized by lsusb/hwinfo/arecord -l/dmesg but it is OFF

After three days of wrestling, I found the solution somewhere online (lost the url, no credits, sry)

ztik@sara:~/nodejs/sara $ amixer
Simple mixer control 'Mic',0
  Capabilities: cvolume cvolume-joined cswitch cswitch-joined
  Capture channels: Mono
  Limits: Capture 0 - 62
  Mono: Capture 53 [85%] [18.07dB] [off]
ztik@sara:~/nodejs/sara $ amixer set Mic 80% cap

ztik@sara:~/nodejs/sara $ amixer
Simple mixer control 'Mic',0
  Capabilities: cvolume cvolume-joined cswitch cswitch-joined
  Capture channels: Mono
  Limits: Capture 0 - 62
  Mono: Capture 50 [81%] [16.59dB] [on]

There is probably a better command for turning the mic on, but this also sets the recording volume at 80%, which is my personal preference


The vision module works, but all it does is take a picture every 30 min, no further processing connected at this moment


  • [ ] General
    • [x] Create bootstrap folder and functionality (these plugins are loaded and executed on boot)
      • [x] Create background operations overview module
    • [x] Scan for .config file, load settings from there
      • [x] Overwrite settings with arguments
    • [ ] Rewrite console.log() to response.conlog()
    • [x] Change eval() functions, find better approach for plugin loading
    • [ ] Correct hardcoded file locations to cleaned up path
    • [ ] Blacklist certain plugin names, to avoid overwriting internal functions
  • [x] Prompt function
    • [x] Write 'vocal_stringify()' function, to replace strings with proper written words ('ztik' becomes 'ZTiK')
  • [ ] Help function
    • [ ] Create help documentation for internal functions and plugins (currently populated with placeholders)
    • [x] Add .json file import to help function, so plugins can add topics to the function
    • [x] Add list help command, and/or display all topics using help
  • [x] Speech recognition
    • [x] Add option to select if speech commands are pushed to command line or processed immediately
    • [x] Write speechparse() function, to replace strings such as 'subcommand start' with '(' and 'subcommand end' with ')'
  • [ ] Voice synthesis
    • [x] Hook command results to voice synthesis
    • [x] Add voices list display
      • [ ] Add voice selection
    • [x] Add voice settings to config.json
    • [ ] Create option for voice to be heard on all output, instead of on response only (--speak-all, --speak-response-only)
    • [ ] Create 'speak' command, which will force the following command output to be spoken completely
      (normal behaviour is to use voice only on 'response' type items, all other types (such as data, info, status) are skipped)
    • [x] Write 'vocalise()' function, to replace strings with proper sounding words ('ZTiK' becomes 'Stick')
      • [x] Add SSML language markup support
        • [ ] Add SSML markup to plugin outputs where needed (math functions)
      • [ ] Add .json file import to vocalise() function, so plugins or end-users can add words to the list
  • [ ] Vision
    • [x] Support for USB Webcams
      • [ ] Support for the Pi camera
    • [ ] Image manipulation through imagemagick
    • [x] Object/face detection
    • [ ] Object/face recognition
  • [ ] Plugins
    • [x] Rename 'commands' folder to 'plugins'
    • [x] Check for plugins in an external folder
    • [x] Add weather plugin
      • [ ] Add more commands: sun, sunrise, sunset, wind, rain
    • [x] Add news plugin
      • [ ] Finish news plugin
    • [x] Add CalDAV plugin
      • [ ] Add calendar
      • [ ] Add event
      • [ ] Query events
      • [ ] Update events
      • [ ] Remove event
      • [ ] Remove calendar
      • [ ] Alert plugin (make use of upcoming startup_plugins)
    • [x] Add CardDAV plugin
      • [x] List addressbooks
      • [x] Query contacts
      • [ ] Add contact
      • [ ] Update contact
      • [ ] Remove contact
    • [x] Add conversation plugin
      • [ ] Finish conversation plugin
    • [ ] Add Gmail plugin
    • [x] Add Google Translate plugin
      • [ ] Add more languages, currently supported: french, english, dutch, german
    • [x] Add CLI Games plugin
      • [ ] Add more games
      • [ ] Highscore system implementation
    • [x] Add time/date plugin
    • [ ] Add IMDB plugin
    • [ ] Add Wolfram Alpha plugin
    • [ ] Add Dictionary plugin
    • [x] Add Wikipedia plugin
      • [ ] Add topic overview/selection on multiple matches with request
      • [ ] Ask if user wants to know more after reading topic description
    • [ ] Add Network Utilities plugin
    • [ ] Add CLI chart plugin
    • [ ] Add 9292OV plugin (Dutch public transport)
    • [x] Add xbmc plugin
      • [x] Add functions (stop, pause, select, back, up, down, left right, info, home, contextmenu)
      • [ ] Add more functions to remote control (next, previous, rewind, forward, sendtext)
    • [ ] Add Image based Object Detection
    • [ ] Add Image based Face Recognition
      • [ ] Add events for Face Recognition
    • [ ] Add Cloud Storage plugin (connect with dropbox etc.)
    • [ ] Add Discord connectivity
  • [ ] ... suggestions?

Long term goals:

  • [ ] Language support... eventually (this is depending on my personal skills as well as Google Speech and Text-To-Speech language availability)
  • [ ] Remote Control Windows PC within the network (this would require a seperate app for Windows to receive commands and process them)
  • [ ] Devise a way to incorporate a mood-function, simulate emotions
  • [ ] Connect a LCD/TFT screen, give Sara a face with expressions
  • [ ] Neural Net / Machine learning capabilities for influencing stock market
  • [ ] Build datacenter deep underground, preferably a remote island close to a submarine communications cable
  • [ ] Self awareness


I would like to point out that I simply put this hardware and these programs and modules together, but without the people who created those, I would have had nothing at all!
Thank you to those involved making:

Hope I didn't miss anyone here, if so, please let me know and I will update!


I am a complete moron when it comes to asynchronous programming, and I am positive that many functions could have been written better/cleaner/more efficient.
I made this project to enhance my understanding of Node.js/Javascript, so please remain calm if/when I don't understand your comment/code/bugfix/pull request/advice/issue at first glance.

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