Remember Furby? The cute reactive robot was all the rage a few years ago, when the strange chattering creature was found under many a Christmas tree. Most Furbys have been sadly neglected since then, but the Open Furby project aims to give the toy a new lease of life, transforming it into an open source social robot platform.
We’ve featured a few Furby hacks before, such as the wonderful Furby Gurdy and the Internet connected Furby but the Open Furby project aims to create an open platform, rather than creating a specific hack. It works by replacing the brains of the Furby with a FLASH controller that runs the Robot Operating System (ROS), making the Furby much easier to program and control. They have also replaced the eyes with small OLED screens, which means it can do things like show a weather forecast, facebook notification, etc.
It is still in the early stages, but it looks like an interesting project. Personally, I am waiting for the evil Furby that wants to kill you and eat your flesh with that nasty beak…
The [Maker Society] started by doing some internet research and reverse engineering a first generation Furby. The Furby itself is a marvel of cost reduction. All the doll’s functions run from a single motor and a cam system. A limit switch tells the on-board microcontroller when the cam is at the zero position. An optical encoder keeps track of the cam as it moves. The [Society] replaced Furby’s internal microcontroller with an Atmel ATMega328. This allowed them to use the Arduino programming environment.
Many classic Animatronic systems use an audio recording for motion. Typically a stereo recorder would perform double duty. The first track would contain the audio for the animation. A second track would contain audio tones corresponding to movement of each of the degrees of freedom of the doll being animated. Because the two tracks were on the same strip of magnetic tape, the audio and movement would always be in sync. Multitrack tape record and playback systems added even more flexibility to this type of system.
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.
This video has been floating around the web recently and we thought that some of you might enjoy it. After a quick google search, we found out that this is [Julie Watai], a singer/model who also enjoys hardware modification. In this video, she’s doing a tutorial on how to circuit bend furbies. No, we have no idea why she is dressed like a maid. This immediately brought to mind that Bjork video we saw a few years ago. Enjoy.
A lot of people like fancy GUIs and nice graphics, but some of us just feel more at home in a command prompt. [nevdull] is one of those people. Instead of just using the Arduino dev tools that are available for download, he wanted the ability to shell into his Arduino, so he created AVR Shell. AVR Shell is a UNIX-like shell that allows you to “log in” to your Arduino/AVR and see what’s really going on; letting you read registers, scale the CPU speed, create/edit/delete variables, and even set up timers. The shell is even user-customizable! Those of you interested in Arduino shells might also check out bitlash, another open source CLI. Someone ought to hook this up to the Internet enabled Furby and get Flite compiled on there, letting us shell into a Furby from miles away to make it talk.
[edwindertien] sent us his project to connect a Furby to the internet. The original Furby controller was replaced with an Arduino which in turn was given ethernet connectivity via a LANTRONIX XPort serial ethernet module. This assigns the Furby an IP address which can then be accessed through a script or via a web interface. Now we want to see someone combine this idea with the arduino that sings “Daisy Bell” to make the ultimate in creepy new email notifiers.
[David Crammer] must really like nightmares. The hurdy gurdy is a stringed musical instrument, dating as far back as the eleventh century A.D., where the strings are sounded via a rosined wheel that is turned with a crank. [Crammer] took this unique instrument, applied his circuit-bending and Furby-scalping skills to generate a Furby Gurdy that sound like Kraftwerk on acid.