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“Alexa, are you going to haunt my dreams?”
One enterprising Amazon Alexa user has turned the virtual assistant into a year-round Halloween horror.
A self-described aspiring roboticist and spooky stylist, YouTuber ViennaMike repurposed the three-axis talking skull his wife gifted him into something altogether creepy.
“A friend suggested that there had to be other [talking skull] applications for the rest of the year,” he wrote in a recent blog post. “This got me thinking, and when I saw the Alexa Billy Bass I knew what I had to do, and the Yorick project was born.”
Named for the dead court jester whose skull is exhumed by a gravedigger in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the unsettling decoration serves as a mouthpiece for Alexa.
Ask for the weather, for instance, and the bug-eyed cranium will report that, in Virginia, “it’s 41 degrees with clear skies and sun.”
The project, as detailed online, requires a talking skull (duh), a Raspberry Pi, and the AlexaPi software for turning the single-board computer into an Alexa client device. You’ll also need servomechanism controllers to adjust audio and skull movements.
“The one key tip is to slow down the servos in order to look more realistic,” according to ViennaMike, who set the speed and acceleration of his Maestro software to 20, leaving the jaw untouched so it can quickly respond to changing audio.
For the finishing touches, the designer hid his hardware in a box, then covered the threaded rod supporting the skull with PVC pipe, which he painted black for continuity.
ViennaMike has been playing around with his three-axis skull for a while: In May, he posted a video of the ornament “singing” along to “King Tut” by Steve Martin and the Toot Uncommons.
Check out his YouTube channel for more glimpses into this year’s Halloween props. And watch the video below for “more from Yorick.”