I’m pretty sure this DIY karaoke robot wants to devour my soul


A sorcerer by the title of Hunter Irving lately discovered a discarded baby’s toy in a store of horrors. Its visage was so terrifying it impressed him to create a machine that makes use of well-liked music to hypnotize people whereas their souls are devoured.

Okay, if I’m being rational, Irving really discovered a knockoff Thomas the Prepare toy at a thrift retailer and turned it right into a singing robotic utilizing an Arduino board and a few DIY know-how. It’s a ridiculously cool challenge that ended up producing a robotic that’s equal elements inviting and repulsive, like a Teddy Ruxpin meets Chucky mashup.

Irving details the project in the above video. He starts with the toy, an articulated knockoff Thomas the Train face (that was, presumably attached to a train body at some point) that has a moving mouth and eyes controlled by a single lever, and attaches a servo to it.

He then gives the robot a brain in the form of an Arduino board. Its egg-shaped body was designed by Irving then fabricated with a 3D printer. He decided to give the robot a voice using studio software and, as he says, “if we’re going to use a speech synthesizer we may as well make it sing.” Just like that, robots are trying to take T-Pain’s job.

KaraokeBot doesn’t have any of big tech’s fancy AI baked in. It sings songs the old fashioned way: by following its programming. Irving hand codes the lyrics into the synthesizer, personally ensuring that the movements and voice line up with the music. It’s a time-consuming process which would be cool to see automated — but that’d be an entirely different project. KaraokeBot’s music is pre-loaded and, presumably, when it’s time to sing Irving manually activates the robot.

In the above video, the robot sings a few different songs including Carly Ray Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” and Greenday’s “I Walk Alone.” Both sound pretty good for the disembodied face of a toy. However, maybe it’s just me, but when the robot sings Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” it gets a little creepy. The vocals take on an almost emotional tone which wasn’t present before — as though it were trying to get me to let my guard down.