A developer named Brian Kane has hacked his Alexa to speak through the avatar of a wall-mounted Big Mouth Billy Bass. It’s not clear exactly how he did it, but it’s probably related to the Alexa API — opened in April just after the release of the Dot — which allows developers to embed the smart assistant in third-party hardware.
In the Facebook video, you can clearly see the animatronic fish responding to Alexa’s wake word and moving its mouth in sync with her commands. The results, embedded above, are unsettling to say the least.
The Big Mouth Billy Bass is a classic of novelty shops and Wal-Marts, designed to sing “Take Me To The River” or “Don’t Worry Be Happy” when its motion sensor is activated. There’s no built-in microphone, so presumably Billy is running off some off-camera offboard microphone.
On some level, this is a joke — but it’s also a vision of our platform-agnostic future. If you can put Alexa in a car or a phone, why not a wall-mounted novelty fish? Of course, there are lots of reasons, but you don’t know until you try.
A similar API is available for Siri, although you’d have to settle for a Big Mouth Billy Bass iOS app.