The Good Kind of Smart Home Technology Hacking

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The Good Kind of Smart Home Technology Hacking
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I never thought I’d say this, but there is actually a kind of hacking that I would welcome in my smart home. Not the kind of hacking where savvy tech nerds get through my firewalls and change all my IFTTT settings (at best) and steal the information for any of my connected accounts (at worst). Hell no to all of that. However, there are a few really creative people that have “hacked” the Amazon Echo to make its brain, Alexa, seem even cooler.

Here are three bad ass ways that technology and creativity have combined with really entertaining results:

Big Mouth Alexa Bass

I remember spending every Thanksgiving at my uncle’s house, in the basement, where the wall décor included a Big Mouth Billy Bass. I hated the thing, but my dad got a real kick out of it. And now, some creative developer found a way to bring Billy back into the spotlight by hacking it to work with his Echo device. Using the Alexa API, he was able to tap into the smart assistant that acts as the Echo brain to use it with third-party hardware.

So, what happens is that when you ask Alexa a question, the fish response. Yup. When you use the wake word and ask any question or activate any skill, Big Mouth Alexa Bass activates, animates, and interacts with you.

Alexa Gets a Head

Inspired by the Big Mouth Alexa Bass creation, one guy hacked his Amazon Echo so that when he interacted with it, an animated skull head looked like it was doing the talking. The innovative guy behind this project is a computer and robotics hobbyist – to no one’s surprise. While the skull is an old Halloween decoration, he didn’t do this for Halloween – some people just like their life to be creepy year-round.

Who Even Needs Alexa?

There are Zelda fans, and then there is the guy that has built his entire smart home system to run off of ocarina songs. Props to this guy for his creativity, patience, and skill.

Yeah, it’s a complicated setup, but this guy is basically the king of the nerds. He built a system with note recognition so that he plays Zelda music and BAM! smart home control happens.

This super fan built his own AI system, and it doesn’t even use the Echo or Alexa. I can’t even imagine how many hours this complicated setup took, but I have to say that the end results is a ton of fun. I don’t want to have to go through all that – I prefer an easy button tap or voice command – but I give respect where respect is due.

Pan clearly put a ton of work into the project, and the results are a lot of fun. So, how did he do it? He used an Internet-connected RasPi, and WiFi modules – along with a lot of Data-like inventions (Goonies reference, anyone) to make the magic happen.

So, What’s Next?

On my personal list of Alexa hacks that I’d like to see: Yoda, Darth Vader, and that Zoltar head from the movie Big.

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Jeff is a tinkerer. He loves gadgets, but usually waits until the reviews are out before buying something. He loves the DIY projects, and loves help setting things up too. Some of his favorite products and services may not be the most well known, but he loves his custom solution.

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