Could futuristic Furby be on the way?
I’ve been inspired and encouraged by a group of Polish engineers and designers, who have created a project they have termed “Open Furby.”
While I have long thought that the potential of Furby robotics had gone untapped, this group of individuals have taken it upon themselves to take the capabilities of Furby to another level.
They say they’d like to create social robots that can integrate robotics within our own everyday lives – and really, seeing how cute and friendly Furby appears and the sophistication of the robotics for the price range, Furby seems an obvious candidate for experimentation.
But – as yet – Hasbro hasn’t taken advantage of the real possibilities for Furby to interact with humans on a multitude of levels.
In addition, there could be the possibility for Furbies to be adapted so that their capabilities could be manipulated by the user to conduct various tasks. The idea behind Open Furby, is to create an open platform- where the brain of Furby is replaced with a flash controller and this runs the robot operating system (ROS). Making these adaptions makes Furby easier to control.
The Open Furby project has had to adapt the Furby technology so that he can be controlled via a PC – they have no intention to create a new commercial product by adapting Furby, but hope to inspire his creators by adding more functionality to Furby and presumably demonstrate some of this technologies potential for future additions.
While I have seen Furbies taken apart and adapted before, (such as with the fantastic Steampunk Furby) this project delivers what I’d been hoping that Hasbro would have attempted already – which is to develop a Furby that takes robotics to the next level.
Hopefully their experimentation with Furby will inspire Furby creators to take take that step when they are making the next generation of Furbies!
On their facebook page – Open Furby writes:
“The FURBY toy manufactured by Hasbro Inc. has a friendly appearance with outstanding capabilities in such price segment. Unfortunately, the manufacturer does not provide for the possibility of using its product as a HRI (human-robot interaction) research platform. There is no possibility of full behaviour control. Our goal is to modify the current version of the FURBY and equipped him in a custom controller that allows to control him form PC.”
Open Furby only just launched in December 2015, so it is only just at the beginning as far as experimentation goes. There are some examples online of some of Open Furbies current abilities – including the ability to tell you when you’ve reached a certain number of facebook likes, reacting to human touch or animated eyes – but I am sure there is much more to come!
Open Furby replaced regular Furbies eyes with mini OLED screens, so you can add anything you like to Furbies eyes. This has already been adapted somewhat by Hasbro, with the release of Furbacca in 2015 which display x-wing fighers and star destroyers- but wouldn’t it be cool if you could upload anything you wanted?
Check out one of the Furbies from the open Furby project…
While it’s still early days, I’m excited to see what they come up with next.
I will be updating with any further news!