Turning Teddy Ruxpin into a Voice Assistant

Since its debut in 1985 as an animatronic toy, Teddy Ruxpin has gone through several revisions; however, it seems to not yet have found its…

Since its debut in 1985 as an animatronic toy, Teddy Ruxpin has gone through several revisions; however, it seems to not yet have found its true calling in our modern world. Perhaps this build by hacker “Jayden17” offers a clue as to what it could do, acting as a smartphone-based Google Assistant. Unlike normal voice assistants, Mr. Ruxpin not only gives you audio feedback to your requests, but a visual indication with his characteristic moving mouth, sort-of syncing with what he’s saying.

The build started out with Jayden finding one of these bears at a garage sale, which he dissected. He then used one line from a headphone splitter out of an old smartphone to power a new speaker assembly, while the other was fed into an Arduino. The phone is set up to run Google Assistant, and when the reply comes back, the Arduino controls Teddy’s mouth to move about via a motor shield.

While it nominally works, this project is still a work in progress. Hopefully we’ll see Teddy responding to audio even better in the future, and perhaps even some eye movements. While not shown in the demo video below, Jayden has even been experimenting with LED eyes, which should enhance its creepiness significantly, especially if he adds sensors or the ability to rotate its head as he’s been considering.

Jeremy S. Cook
Engineer, maker of random contraptions, love learning about tech. Write for various publications, including Hackster!
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