Robotics Enthusiast Mods Amazon Alexa Into A Scary Talking Skull [Video]By Mark Spencer, UniversityHerald Reporter
If Amazon's Echo is not creepy enough, and with Alexa that is intelligent enough, to listen and keep records of everything you say, in comes a robot enthusiast who made the home personal assistant even creepier by transforming the device into a talking skull.
Mike McGurrin, a computer and robotics enthusiast transformed the Amazon Echo as part of the Yorick Project, wherein he discussed his project in his Aspiring Roboticist Blog. According to the blog, the key elements to producing a talking skull are a Raspberry Pi and the AlexaPi software for converting the Pi into as Alexa client device.
The talking skull would also need audio servo controllers. These converts sound into servo commands for its jaw. Its servo controllers, animates the nod, turn, tilt, and eye servos of the skull. According to McGurrin, for Christmas 2015, his wife gave him the 3-axis talking skull, complete with moving eyes, according to Huffington Post.
To make the skull's movement look realistic, he said the servos needed to be slowed down. In his creation, he kept the setting of his Maestro software at 20; he also left the jaw untouched making the device react quickly to changing audio.
In the video below, which McGurrin uploaded to his ViennaMike YouTube channel, the Alexa Skull was asked a series of questions, including reference queries involving "Star Trek." The modified Amazon Echo device responded as expected with the creepy animatronic skull figure mouthing its responses.
There were suggestions for McGurrin to change the Alexa's voice into something more suitable, similar to the voice of the Crypt Keeper. There were others who referenced the look of the finished product, resembling the aliens in "Mars Attacks."
McGurrin said seeing an Alexa Big Mouth Billy Bass hack last year got him inspired to conceptualize the Yorick Project, according to The Telegraph. He adds, anyone feeling adventurous and would like to make one, the device could be made in ten hours.