It’s a little early to start prepping for Halloween, but here’s a fun project for the hobbyists out there.
Aspiring roboticist Mike McGurrin turned Amazon Alexa into a talking skull. You can find full instructions for the project here, but the main pieces of the puzzle are a three-axis talking skull robot, powered speakers, Raspberry Pi, AlexaPi software that turns the Raspberry Pi into an Alexa client, and a servo controller for controlling the nod, turn, tilt, and eyes of the skull.
In the video atop this page, McGurrin asks Alexa about the weather, and it might be the creepiest weather forecast you’ll ever see. The Alexa skull tilts its head around while processing McGurrin’s request, and then moves its eyes and jaw while talking back to McGurrin,
Here’s more from McGurrin: “The AlexaPi software provides output to two GPIO pins, intended to light up LEDs as the Pi hears the wakeup word, listens to the input, gets the response from the Amazon Alexa service, and then speaks the response. All the directions for AlexaPi are on the creator’s GitHub site. For this project, we also linked the same pins to input pins on the Maestro servo controller. The Maestro I used allows pins to be used as output (primarily for servos, but also for other purposes) or as analog inputs. Other models also have digital input pins. By reading the status of the input pins, we know which state to be in, as there is a separate routine of head motions for inactive, wake, listen, get response, and speak response.”
McGurrin says this project was inspired, of course, by a 2016 hack that turned Amazon Alexa into a Billy Bass Fish. Check out that video below: