In our last two weeks with Furby, Ruth and I have been learning more about adding a cart to the Furby, which was part of our original plan. We originally wanted to wire the Furby to the cart such that the activation of its infrared sensors would make the Furby turn and move in a […]
After some members of the class suggested that we try to make the Furby “evil” somehow, either by changing its voice or appearance, Ruth and I decided to continue our work with LEDs on the Furby by giving it glowing red eyes. First, to make sure that the light could be seen through the pupils, […]
Now that we had taken the Furby apart, Ruth and I were able to see all of the wires and identify them in the specs. The most important wires for our project are the 6 leading from the head sensors (light and infrared) to the rest of the circuit. They’re pretty clearly identified in the […]
For our final project, Ruth and I have decided to take apart and repurpose a Furby, mostly by keeping the body and circuitry intact and adding our own circuitry to it. My greatest hope is that we can eventually use the infrared senors on its head to detect motion/objects in front of the Furby, and then […]
While browsing through maker projects, I remembered a conversation that I had with my dad about potentially “hacking” a furby’s CPU and changing something about the voice or sensors to reverse engineer it. He had joked about making Pulp Furby: a hacked furby whose sensors behaved the same way, but who responded with Samuel L. […]
While browsing through maker projects, I remembered a conversation that I had with my dad about potentially “hacking” a furby’s CPU and changing something about the voice or sensors to reverse engineer it. He had joked about making Pulp Furby: a hacked furby whose sensors behaved the same way, but who responded with Samuel L. Jackson’s Pulp Fiction quotes instead of the furby’s usual sounds. Regardless of how possible that was to create, reverse engineering a furby still seemed like a worthwhile project to consider during the semester, so I quickly began digging through articles on “Furby Hacking 101”.
A lot more could be said about the furby’s sensors than it’s CPU: according to schematics and other makers’ research, hacking the furby CPU is difficult because Tiger Electronics actively tried to prevent 1998 furbies from being hacked by protecting the key components. 1998 furbies are also considered collectibles and can only be found on eBay with enormous price-tags or risky problems. I’m currently looking into how likely it is that I could hack a 2012 furby, since those are newer and hopefully a little less expensive.
In the meantime, I discovered the artist and scientist Kelly Heaton, who makes incredible works of art that combine analog electronics with environmentalism and organic subjects. All of her work is worth talking about, but I wanted to spotlight her work on furbies. She created several works in the late 90s and early 2000s that focused on furbies — one of the most iconic technological children’s toys of the time — and how we connect with them. She’s both inspirational for her ideas and her engineering on these projects, which can be found on her website.
I also love this furby schematic that she drew. More can be found here.