Reverse engineering the Furby


Furby teardowns are a favorite of ours, and there’s nothing quite like flaying open a creepy talking deformed animatronic owl/hell beast. There’s a lot you can do with a set of screwdrivers and a pair of scissors, but it takes a real clever person to reverse engineer a Furby without any disassembly (Russian, here’s the translation).

The new Furby comes with an iOS and Android app that allows children to interact with the Furby by feeding it, giving it commands, and even translating the Furbish into English. These apps work by playing a WAV file encoded with commands that give the Furby something to eat, or tell it to dance a merry jig.

Commands are delivered with these WAV files by means of a 4-digit, 4-bit code, complete with checksums. There are ten bits the Furby actually responds on, meaning there are potentially 1024 different commands the Furby can accept.

[iafan] wrote a Perl script to listen in on the audio generated by the Android Furby app and correlated all the possible commands with actions taken by the Furby. Everything is up on a git, allowing anyone to play an audio file and control the Furby’s mood and actions.

With this it should be possible to remotely control a Furby, letting it dance whenever you receive an email, or making it angry whenever someone retweets you. It’s a lot more clever than just putting a Furby through a wood chipper, but considering how creepy these things are, we’re not going to say it’s better.

Raspberry Pi becomes a guitar effects processor

One of the more interesting use cases for the Raspberry Pi is exploiting its DSP capabilities in interesting ways. There’s a lot of horsepower inside the Raspberry Pi, more than enough to do some very interesting things with audio, all while being powered by a small wall wart adapter. [Pierre] over on the Pure Data mailing list has a proof-of-concept working that uses the Raspi as a guitar effects processor. The results are very encouraging – [Pierre] is able to use his Raspi as a delay, pitch shifter, and of course a classic flanger, phaser, and chorus with a latency of about 16 ms.

There are a few steps necessary to get low latency with the Raspi’s audio interface. [Pierre] is running his Pi headless, and allocated more RAM to the CPU.

If you’d like to try this out for yourself, [Pierre] has a tutorial for setting up Pure Data with the Raspberry Pi. He’ll be updating his blog soon with more tutorials and verified USB audio interfaces later.

Check out the processor in action after the break.

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