2022 Sci-Fi Contest: Your Home Assistant, HAL 9000

Anyone who has seen 2001: A Space Odyssey will easily remember HAL 9000, the sentient computer that turned against its human companions aboard Spacecraft Discovery One. [Ben Brooks] decided to recreate the foreboding digital being, and put it to work as a smart home assistant.

The build consists of a 3D printed assembly that looks very much like HAL did in the movie. It runs as a standalone device hooked up to [Ben]’s Home Assistant instance, a self-hosted home automation solution. The device is capable of playing sound clips from the movie, with the help of an ESP8266 and a DF Player Mini module. It’s triggered by a button or motion sensor, but it’s also hooked up to Home Assistant for some extra smarts. This setup makes sure HAL stays silent when a Chromecast is playing content on TV, so as not to disturb essential viewing.

Overall, it’s a fun movie tribute build that is remarkably true to the source material. Let’s just hope this HAL doesn’t get any maniacal ideas, forcing [Ben] to pull apart its processor to stop its dangerous machinations.

We’ve seen some other great HAL builds before, too. Video after the break.

17 thoughts on “2022 Sci-Fi Contest: Your Home Assistant, HAL 9000

      1. I have tried all the popular open source hubs over the years as well as some no longer around. I have yet to find any which deserve those adjectives. They are all overpriced in some way and need a programmer mentality with a willingness . None are very user friendly and ALL hubs have some issues.

        The price I have paid over the past 17 years for my hub has been well spent. It is more than capable, does not need internet access, all settings are available in a user interface but has programmable flexibility when needed for more powerful abilities as well as an API with others providing additional functionality. Over-priced? $200-300 over 17 years. If that is overpriced then for real functionality, then you are not thinking about the value of your time.

  1. My HomeSeer system is on a computer I called HAL9000 years ago. And with Google Assistant, “open the pod bay door” opens my garage. My entire network is called Discovery One and the guest network is EVA Pod One.

    No 3D printed devices here (no printer), but my touch interfaces have always had an image of the HAL “eye” on every screen.

  2. People have also gone very far to figure out the exact details of the construction of the original HAL props. The replica prop forums have some impressive sleuthing threads on it, as well as people trying to replicate it as well as possible with cheaper parts (the original “eye” is a rare and very expensive fisheye lens).

    1. I didn’t known that, thank you for tbe information! :)
      What I wonder, what light was used originally for the eye?
      Both an LED and a laser diode are out of question due to the age of the film.
      So was it just a simple miniature incandescent lamp? Or halogen?
      However, it does look so intense and terrifying..

      1. It is much simpler than this, the lenses meant for black and white photography had selectable color filters. The color filters over black and white film allowed you to get better contrast in certain situations. For the movie all they did was select the red filter and place a light bulb behind the lens.

  3. For the record, HAL didn’t “get” any maniacal ideas, he effectively was forced into them by humans who didn’t understand technology. This was established in the second novel written by Clarke (2010), as well as the corresponding Peter Hyams movie (which, in my opinion, has better pacing and more natural character interactions than 2001).

    He was given full knowledge of the monolith orbiting Io just prior to the Discovery mission, and instructed by the 2001/2010-universe equivalent of the NSA, not to reveal any information about it to Bowman or Poole. He was instructed to lie – by government people who find it easy to lie. As this was completely at odds with the design of the 9000 series – the accurate processing of information without concealment or distortion – HAL effectively became trapped, and paranoid.

    1. 2010 (film) was a bit underrated, I think.
      Personally, I enjoyed the combination of 60s/80s life style/way of thinking, the characters/actors and the introduction of SAL 9000.
      And the overall fascination, optimism.
      The crews eventually worked together, despite the conflicts on earth.
      While the ending of the story was still open, the film itself ended with hope. And it did (positively) justice to HAL, as well.

    2. The Discovery One Spacecraft in 2010 didn’t have a rotating habitat for the carbon based life forms. Somehow, through the action of the Monolith?, the spacecraft went through a physical transformation during the intervening years. But judging from the location and size of the Pod Bay doors in 2001, through the exterior shots, there didn’t appear to be enough space for the rotating habitat inside the spacecraft either.

  4. It’s far easier than that; black and white photography lenses featured interchangeable color filters. In some circumstances, using color filters over black and white film allows you to get greater contrast. For the movie, all they needed to do was put a light bulb behind the lens and choose the red filter.

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