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Furby Turns into a Writer's Animatronics Bot © MIT

I wanted to convert an old Furby into a famous writer animatronics bot that will interrupt my daily work with wise remarks.

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Components and supplies

Apps and online services

About this project

I found an old '98 broken Furby and I've started to think about turning the famous toy into an animatronic bot of the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, so instead of talking Furby language, this unit will wake up to provide wise literature quotes and remarks.

Do I want to control the motor and discard everything else?

I found some projects and technical information to control Furby motion using Arduino and Raspberry Pi, but I did not want to lose all the features of this great toy designed by Caleb Chung like going to sleep, microphone interaction, IR, tilt, belly and hug sensors, etc, etc

New Furby hack

My approach was to detect when Furby sends audio to the speaker with an Arduino Nano and then intercept audio with Jorge Luis Borges voice recordings using a small MP3 player with built-in amplifier.

New speaker

The original speaker was 8 ohms and sound cannot be heard, so I've used a 4 ohm 3 watts speaker instead.

Since the new speaker did not fit Furby, I've designed a Furby base using Fusion 360 to hide new speaker and circuits.

Issue waking up

Then I found one little issue: Furby wakes up by turning the toy down and I did not want to turn down the entire thing every time.

After some research, I have decided to include a switch button connected to Furbys tilt sensor. Now the unit wakes up with a button.

Recordings and motions

The MP3 recordings are short enough to fit the smallest Furby talking line and if Furby still talks when the recording ends, a second recording is sent. It is not a perfect system but generally works pretty well.

Why Borgy?

"Furby" mixed with "Borges"

Kind of alive

Of course I know exactly how it works it but as soon as I turned it on, there were some kind of magic around. Borgy is now in my desk. Sometimes I touch it and it starts talking, sometimes it hears my voice and it answers, sometimes it starts talking by himself.

Jorge Luis Borges Wikipedia entry

Furby creator interview

Other literature/technology projects

Comments

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