If you’re not lucky enough to have blocked it from your memory, you may recall the Billy the Bass thing. It was a very annoying, and inexplicably popular, animatronic bass mounted on wood placard. Pushing a button on the placard would cause Billy the Bass to flop around and lip sync along to Take Me To The River by Talking Heads. Anyone who valued their sanity rightfully despised Billy the Bass, but apparently it has reached a level of ironic charm, because Bob Baddeley decided it was the perfect upgrade for his Amazon Echo.
While you can, and probably should, question Baddeley’s judgement, the build is really well done. Billy the Bass’s mouth moves along with Alexa as she talks, and even lip syncs with songs that are playing. To make that happen, Baddeley used an ATtiny to monitor the Echo’s LEDs with a photoresistor, and also the audio output. That allowed him to detect when the Alexa is talking or music is playing in order to sync the movement of the body and mouth.
Fitting the Amazon Echo inside of the placard was tricky, and required some light trimming of the placard and disassembly of the Echo. But, the end result looks good, and is mostly indistinguishable from a stock Billy the Bass. While we can debate all day long about whether such an abomination should have been created, I think we can all agree that the execution is spot on.