Man hacks Alexa into singing fish robot, terror ensues

A developer named Brian Kane has hacked his Alexa to speak through the avatar of a wall-mounted Big Mouth Billy Bass. It’s not clear exactly how he did it, but it’s probably related to the Alexa API — opened in April just after the release of the Dot — which allows developers to embed the smart assistant in third-party hardware.

In the Facebook video, you can clearly see the animatronic fish responding to Alexa’s wake word and moving its mouth in sync with her commands. The results, embedded above, are unsettling to say the least.

The Big Mouth Billy Bass is a classic of novelty shops and Wal-Marts, designed to sing "Take Me To The River" or "Don’t Worry Be Happy" when its motion sensor is activated. There’s no built-in microphone, so presumably Billy is running off some off-camera offboard microphone.

On some level, this is a joke — but it’s also a vision of our platform-agnostic future. If you can put Alexa in a car or a phone, why not a wall-mounted novelty fish? Of course, there are lots of reasons, but you don’t know until you try.

A similar API is available for Siri, although you'd have to settle for a Big Mouth Billy Bass iOS app.


omg … lmao this is awesome

That is incredible.

The future is here.

more likely that he just gutted an Echo Dot and shoved it into the fish. Then tapped the LED output lead into the motion sensor feed of the fish…since motion is what typically activates those things….

Come on. Don’t steal joy.

how did he get the mouth to sync up tho

The Alexa API you mentioned responds with an audio file containing the speech synthesis whenever a recognized request is made. My educated guess is that they analyze the waveform for volume changes (or maybe theres a vowel analyzer out there) and map that to some electronic control of the mouth movement.

So that would mean it’s more than just a transplanted Echo Dot.

In an email to Mashable, Kane, a teacher at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), explained that he created the hack using Arduino, an open-source platform used to create interactive electronics.

"This piece was an in-class demo to show the students how to rapid prototype a concept and get it working quickly, so that we can test new ideas on people and make decisions," Kane told Mashable. "We’re looking at AI as artists and designers, making new experiences and using the design process to find out what life can be like in a world of intelligent machines. "

I can’t stop hitting repeat.

nor can I!

A similar API is available for Siri, although you’d have to settle for a Big Mouth Billy Bass iOS app.

No. No, there is not.

Wrong. The Siri api has been out for a little while now, although its IOS10 only at this stage.

This is legitimately the funniest thing I’ve seen in weeks.

How long until it can respond to and sound like Jarvis?

Wow, Amazon really upped their industrial design after the Echo vs Google Home articles.

This product (even as a set of DIY instructions) would legitimately cause me to choose Amazon over Google.

Wow, Amazon really upped their industrial design after the Echo vs Google Home articles.

I sent this comment to my Mom, and neither of us will ever forget it. The laughing will never cease.

You and your mom laugh at jokes about modifications to a gadget’s design in response to broadening market competition? Can I join your family?

I would pay for this.

We all would, do you want your home AI to be in an air freshener or a novelty bass?

That was a rhetorical question.

Maybe the bass could spray some febreeze… win/win.

Seeing the fish always reminds me of The Sopranos scene where Paulie and Christopher yuk it up in the car while Big Mouth Bass sings "YMCA".

This is awesome! I have no interest in Echo whatsoever, but this I would buy…

Actually, I kinda like the idea of a device turning towards your voice to indicate that it is listening and ready to respond

Fish looks up from wall:
"Yes, Bob? What can I get for you?"

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