Alexa Brings Back Singing Fish, This Time It’s A Good Thing

Alexa in Billy Bass singing fish

Remember Big Mouth Billy Bass? That’s the singing fish with which you could torture family members by having it endlessly perform a rendition of either “Take Me to the River” or “Don’t Worry Be Happy”.

Now [Brian Kane], a teacher at the Rhode Island School of Design, has connected Amazon’s Alexa to the fish. Speak the “wake word”, “Alexa”, and the fish’s head turns to face you. Then ask it any question you’d normally ask Alexa and Alexa’s voice answers while the fish opens and closes its mouth in time to the words. Want to know the weather? Ask the fish, which you can see [Brian] do in the video below.

[Brian] hasn’t given details on how he’s done it but he’s likely made use of the Alexa Skills Kit, an SDK from Amazon that let’s you use the Alexa voice recognition and speech service with your own hardware (wetware, aquaware?), just as Amazon does with their home assistant, Echo .

We’ve seen Alexa used in hardware hacks before. In these two, with the help of Raspberry Pis, Alexa interacts through a vintage intercom and also a rotary phone.

Thanks to Mr. Creosote for sending us this tip.

27 thoughts on “Alexa Brings Back Singing Fish, This Time It’s A Good Thing

      1. Quite the contrary – I’ve learned to avoid most of its dark corners. However, in this instance I was referring to using this fish to interface with a nascent A.I. If we are going to have to interact, I’d rather deal with a Max Headroom than a talking toy

  1. Now that, that’s just genius! Throw a motion detector into the eye to occasionally twitch the tail while motion is being detected in the room, and you’ve got it all wrapped up.

  2. I’ve never before owned one of these fishy things, but after seeing the first reports of this hack I have one on the way. Surely it can’t be ???????????? hard to pull off… Shall we have an informal HaD contest to see who can come up with the most entertaining version?

  3. First thing i saw today, probably also the very best.
    Thank you so much, this is hilarious.

    Also I need to express my sincere condolence to my american peers.
    Let’s not get grabbed by the p..

    1. Thanks OFlo, “intellectually” we already started to “exit stage right” with
      Ronnie “what’s my name Nancy” Reagan. The foundation was finally
      breached by W and now we’ve eternalized it in stone.
      Viz-a-viz “creepy” above, “Creepy” hasn’t even begun

  4. Something fishy about this. But considering the number of animatronic toys out there it’s a good idea, maybe a Tickle me Elmo or Teddy Ruxpin (Remember him) would be cuter, also how do you get Alexa to respond to a different name?

    1. Simple: use a different speech recognition device to listen for the keyword/phrase of your choice, and have it trigger a manual Alexa device (Amazon Tap, or Raspberry Pi) to process the rest of what you say. The add-on device wouldn’t need to be complex since it only has to recognize a very small vocabulary. Heck, you could even have the add-on say “Alexa” in response to your trigger word, so it would work with any Echo.

  5. Would love if they made a Big Mouth Billy Bass small enough to fit inside an Altoids tin or cigarette case, tethered by bluetooth or wifi to a smartphone. It’d be great to pull out around strangers and settle arguments, get public transport information or provide vocal translations (assuming it’d look small enough to fit inside an ear). I suppose 3d printing it is an option, I doubt the circuitry inside a BMBB is too sophisticated.

    The tin’s hinge connected to a switch would reduce false positives to voice activation too.

    1. My guess too, and that’s exactly what I intend to try first when I receive my fish. If it looks good, then I’ll try to jazz it up with additional features (maybe a winking eye, which would be silly since fish don’t have eyelids).

  6. So weird… I just played the video above for the umpteenth time, and my own Echo responded by giving an almost identical (and synchronized!) forecast, except for Arlington, VA instead of Cambridge.

  7. I kinda have an issue with posting an article on the front page about something that has no build information whatsoever , how it was done or how to replicate it. I know that it most likely involve the raspberry pi’s echo integration that amazon put online not so long ago ( and activating the fish motor at the right time but I do not see the point of the article beside ”Look what I have done! I’m so cool”.

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