There are two kinds of people in this world: those who think Furbys are cute and those whose insides quake with aversion at the sight of them. The chatty, supposedly friendly gadget has now reached a new level of horror thanks to a DIY tinkerer smooshing Amazon's Alexa voice assistant into one of the fuzzy beasts.
Zach, a web developer, posted instructions on the DIY site howchoo this week for making your own Furby-Alexa hybrid. He used a Rasberry Pi, Amazon's Alexa Voice Service software and a few assorted electrical bits to bring this fuzzy monstrosity to life. He calls it "Furlexa."
Making the Fur-Echo involved the grisly process of skinning the toy down to expose its guts, which include an infrared sensor, microphone, speaker and a motor that moves the toy's face as it talks. As Zach notes, "Furby is super hackable."
Zach used an original-style Furby, which was first introduced in 1998, rather than a more modern spying accusations), so Alexa's refined vocabulary is a welcome relief., a higher-tech version that came out in 2016. He says the addition of Alexa makes the device a little less annoying. The original was known for burbling a gibberish Furby language (and also for
Zach replaced the Furby's speaker and microphone with higher-quality components, though you still have to listen to the strange whirring noises it makes when wiggling its ears, eyes and mouth.
The Furlexa is an improvement on the original toy, but Furby haters will still find it disquieting. You probably won't want to leave it on your bedside table where it can seed your nightmares with its hypnotic eyes.