KDE Announces Open Plasma Bigscreen Interface for Smart TVs

KDE has announced Plasma Bigscreen, an interface for TVs and monitors that can run on resource-constrained computing devices like the Raspberry Pi. The interface should provide an open alternative to the closed smart TV platforms.

Plasma Bigscreen can run apps as well as traditional desktop programs adapted for the interface. The KDE team hopes that third parties will develop for the platform, taking advantage of the freedom that open source software offers in this area.

In the announcement, KDE admits that it was new for the designers to work on a version of Plasma with remote control, in terms of layout and interaction. In addition to that control, Bigscreen offers voice control that works based on Mycroft’s open source voice control. The functionality of this can be expanded with so-called skills for, for example, requesting the weather forecast and recipes. Developers can use Python and QML to write skills themselves. For the time being, Mycroft’s server still works via Google’s Speech To Text, which runs anonymized data via Google. KDE points out that users can disable voice control.

KDE is planning a beta release running on a Raspberry Pi 4. That release includes experimental support for hdmi-cec. To try out the voice control, the team recommends using a bluetooth remote control with microphone, but the combination of mouse and keyboard with USB microphone would also suffice.