The first generation of Furby, the owlish electronic toy made by Hasbro, was met with enormous consumer demand when it hit shelves in November 1998. Thanks to their novel communication abilities and adorable appearance, millions of these OG Furbies were sold around the world, creating a new niche for household robots—along with a subculture devoted to hacking them.Indeed, the history of reprogramming Furbies to execute all kinds of commands and functions is fascinating. And every time Hasbro reboots the toy with more sophisticated software, the options for DIY tinkerers proliferate into ever-weirder offshoots of non-native Furby behavior.
Take this recent video guide from the YouTube channel Jeija, which show how to hijack the new Furby Connect's Bluetooth platform to make the toy blurt out custom sound files imported by the user. Let the Furbish rickrolls begin:As outlined in the video, all past Furby models used communications to react to outside events, but Hasbro has made "a giant mistake" with Furby Connect by allowing it to receive updates through the company's app. This opens the door to a secret diagnostics menu that eerily displays itself in the toy's eyes, like some unholy cross between Gremlins and Black Mirror.
Custom audio selections can be transferred into the Furby's memory using a program, designed by Jeija, called fluffd. It enables the toy to quote from any source: Star Wars, Donald Trump, Martin Luther King Jr.—you name it, Furby Connect can say it.Hopefully, this novel method of Furby-hacking will herald a golden age of communications in which Furby representatives are sent to hash out differences on behalf of humans. If not, at least it gives us all something to do with the Furby Connect other than listen to its originally programmed jazz farts.Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.