Want to turn your dumb TV into a smart one? Or maybe you’d prefer to have a more privacy respecting, open source operating system powering your TV experience? Just take one part KDE Plasma, one part Rasbperry Pi 4, and one part Mycroft AI voice assistant, and you’ve got Plasma Bigscreen. It’s a new venture that transforms the KDE Linux desktop into a “10 foot experience” using the speed and flexibility of KDE Neon, complete with voice control and Alexa-like assistant skills.

1)Plasma Bigscreen is just entering Beta, and is currently available to download and install on the Raspberry Pi 4. On paper, it looks incredible promising for a few reasons: 1) Privacy-focused voice control. The announcement blog explains that most “big brands not only don’t safeguard the privacy of their customers, but actively harvest their conversations even when they are not sending instructions to their TV sets.” Open source voice assistant Mycroft alleviates that problem by giving users the flexibility to use Google’s STT (speech to text), self-host an instance of Mozilla Deepspeech, or just turn off voice recognition entirely.

2) It’s free and it’s open source. One of Plasma Bigscreen’s underlying goals is to “hand control over to the people and the industry so they can build and power smart devices without the limits of other closed TV environments.” Like all open source projects, it puts the power in the people’s hands to innovate and improve upon the framework that’s already there.

3) It works with regular remotes OR your mouse/keyboard. There’s nothing proprietary to purchase for Plasma Bigscreen since it, alongside the Raspberry Pi 4, utilizes the “CEC” standard to control your TV over an HDMI connection. A large number of device-specific and universal remotes (including ones with built-in microphones) will work, provided your TV supports HDMI-CEC. You can also just plug in a keyboard and mouse and even a generic USB microphone to control Plasma Bigscreen.

It’s still early days for Plasma Bigscreen, but since it’s being maintained by KDE developers, the hope here is that we start to see this experience roll out to more devices than the Raspberry Pi 4. It’ll also need a wide selection of Mycroft AI skills, and it would be great to see key selections from the software library in Discover (the KDE Plasma app store) start transitioning over.

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