Man Hacked His Alexa To Speak Through A Robotic Singing Fish
Developer Brian Kane, a teacher at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), decided to something funny and creepy when he modified Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa to speak through an Echo and made it respond to commands from the mouth of a wall-mounted singing fish.
For those unfamiliar, Billy Big Mouth Bass is a singing, robotic fish, that was popular 20 years ago and could be usually seen mounted on the wall of a gas station store or a basement man cave. The fish turned its head towards a person, facing them, and then wiggled its tail on its trophy plaque and sang songs, such as “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and “Take Me To The River.”
In the video clip, Kane is seen asking his newly hacked device Alexa what the weather is. And the fish’s head immediately faces the camera and it creepily wiggles toward the voice like it would normally, but instead Alexa responds with the local weather for Cambridge.
So, how did Kane create the hack? In an email to Mashable, Kane explained that he developed 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.”
Talking regarding the success of new products, Kane said that it is based on a user’s emotional attachment to the device.
“So much of the industry is dominated by engineering and business, but ultimately the success of these new products will be that people can make an emotional attachment to them, and that’s what artists have been doing for generations,” said Kane.
While Kane does have plans to release a “limited edition of signed artists versions for collectors and friends,” but the Big Mouth Billy Bass Alexa hack won’t be making it to the market anytime soon.
Kane is hoping that this project will bring some attention to his students and their projects this semester, as RISD has a lot of weird stuff up their sleeves.
“RISD is the new MIT, and we’re looking to make amazing new experiences for people that are emotionally engaging by bringing an artistic sensibility to technology through storytelling and unlimited creativity.”
As for his prototype, Kane says it will become a permanent fixture in his own space, although he is looking for suggestions on the exact place where it needs to be fixed.
Here’s a normal Big Mouth Billy Bass in action: