Hooking a Chumby up to a Furby?
February 3, 2009 12:07 AM   Subscribe

LazyHiveMind: What fun things can I do if I hook my Chumby up to a Furby?

Serious rediscovered interest in robotics but admittedly frivolous project. I have a 2008 production Chumby and a junk box full of original Furbies bought in thrift stores, most of them in pretty good shape (but I'm not afraid to rip 'em apart).

What fun things can I do by wiring together my Chumby and one or more Furbies? I've already thought of an easy one: wire the Furby's mike input to the audio output of the Chumby. Then when the Chumby's alarm goes off, the Furby will wake up and do something interesting instead.

I'd like to work with the original hardware as much as possible, so I'm not really interested in ripping out the Furby's brain and replacing it with an Arduino or something. Also, Furbies are cheap, but Chumbies are expensive, and I like mine. Enough said.

Let the speculative engineering commence!

p.s. Twitter failed me on this one, so I'm counting on MeFites.
posted by rwhe to Technology (6 answers total)
Response by poster: Maybe "enough said" isn't. I just mean I don't want to do anything to irreparably damage my Chumby. Furbies, yes; Chumby, no.
posted by rwhe at 12:37 AM on February 3, 2009

Breed Furmbies.

(Oh, all right then. If I recall the furby autopsy correctly, there's not much you can do with them - they're fairly simple arrangements of cams. So I'd go for a disturbing choral effect. Strip the fur off the Furbies so they're identical, slave them to the Chumby so they all do the same thing at the same time, and arrange them in a line).
posted by Leon at 2:55 AM on February 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

This isn't a complete answer but since nobody mentioned circuit bending...

At minimum, you could get tech specs by googling the following:

"circuit bending" chumby
"circuit bending" furby
posted by ezekieldas at 6:15 AM on February 3, 2009

Best answer: The chumby can get information from the 'net and control the Furby, right? A few related projects spring to mind:

Have the chumby kick the furby into action when you get a new email. Depending how much control you have, you can get specific words or movements in the furby tied to specific email senders or email accounts.

If you use twitter, get your chumby to pull the twitter feed and read it out (speech synth through a speaker mounted inside the furby?) while moving the furby's mouth and body. All your friends' messages will take on the voice and form of a twitching machine that can't be killed!

Do the same thing, but with your favourite IM client. Put some a speaker in the furby and have your chumby make the furby read out your incoming IMs, complete with mouth movements. Ideally, you should rig up some system where receiving emoticons through the IM triggers suitable behaviours in the furby. So if someone writes lol or :D the furby actually laughs... you get the idea.

Taking this idea to its creepy conclusion, also mount a microphone and small webcam in there. Now every time you make a VOIP call, you'll be listening to then looking at and talking to the furby. This would be a strong contender for the world's creepiest telepresence robot. It would also make an awesome prop for halloween, when people realise that the creepy-looking talking toy really can see and hear them.

Finally, depending how well-documented the furby's behaviour is, there must be some mileage in using the chumby to remotely control the furby through its IR port. Destroy the toy, but keep the IR reciever>furby brain>motors stuff. Now you have a bunck of motors that you can control from anywhere in the world:
[you anywhere in the world] -> [internet] -> [wifi connection] -> [chumby] -> [infra-red link] -> [bunch of controllable motors].

If you can sort this out, the sky's the limit. Cat feeder / toy while you're on holiday? Plant waterer for same? Child frightener? Device to turn the heating in your house on when you're on the way home?

As a final final thought, how about using that link backwards? You could use the furby's IR receiver to provide input to your chumby and thus control any device / software hooked up to it. Repurpose an old TV remote to control some system hooked up to your furrby/chumby hybrid. Or go somewhere that shouldn't have much IR radiation and set it up to alert you when the local IR light gets too bright, maybe indicating a fire?

Oh man, now I want a few chumbies, a crate of furbies and a bucketload of programming skills. This could be awesome.
posted by metaBugs at 7:17 AM on February 3, 2009

Connect the Chumby and the Furby to a Flowbee and a Kirby.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:41 AM on February 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: metaBugs had the answer that was closest to what I was looking for (thanks, metaBugs!) but Faint of Butt's answer is also superb.

Leon, your point that "there's not much you can do with them" is well taken. I like the choral idea, but getting multiple Furbies to do the same thing is hard. Now I'm inclined to just use them as simple output devices like a bell or buzzer, triggered by something on the Chumby, where all the heavy lifting is done. Cf. metaBugs's suggestion to have them wake up when new email arrives.

Of course, it would be possible to use a Furby as a terminal bell on a laptop or desktop computer as well.
posted by rwhe at 11:14 PM on February 3, 2009

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