Is there any better hack than making a robot fish read out Twitter messages? If there is, don't tell Dan Ros about it: he's spent his spare time hooking up a Big Mouth Billy Bass "novelty" fish to an mbed microcontroller. Initially the fish merely repeated .wav files from an SD card, but then they used the mbed's HTTPClient library to pull in tweets instead.
Video demo after the cut
With that in place, anybody sending an @mbedmicro message would be picked up by the mbed server, a text-to-speech sound file created, and then that file sent to Billy. The tail flapping and lip movements are triggered by an accompanying movements file, that's also created on-the-fly by the mbed microcontroller.
The star of the show is the mbed chipset, and in fact that's Dan Ros' real motivation. Priced at $60 (for a limited, introductory period; normal price $100), the mbed has an ARM Cortex M3 core, ethernet, USB, serial and other connections, and drag-and-drop loading of binary instruction files. It's intended for rapid prototyping, as you can see in the second video below, and has just gone on sale today.
[via Hack a Day]