L.A. Furby ? No, actually
the gunshot sound is our friend Louis
clapping his hands. We would like to thank Louis for donating his
Furbies for this very special and touching scene.
Year or Era:
1998 to present
plastic, fur, wires, computer chips...
single motor, controlled by dual CPU's
5" high (with fur flattened)
"Furby? What do you mean when you imply that a furby is a robot?" -you ask. And I will then reply: "Furby is a better representation of an ACTUAL robot than many of my toy robots on my site. He has a computer for a brain that drives sensors, sound, and a motor. I would categorize him in the animatronics category."
Furbies have an infrared sensor and a photoelectric sensor behind the dark smoked plastic in their foreheads. This allows them to sense darkness so they may make the appropriate comments. The infrared sensor allows them to interact with other furbies (see mpeg movie above), as well as be controlled by a standard television remote control- somewhat. They have a sound sensor that can hear loud sounds, a sensor on their back and one on their belly that detect petting. Some kind of motion sensor detects movement or when they are upside down. A single motor drives a series of cams that move ears, blink eyes, open a mouth, and a base that raises the furby up and down while dancing. It is said that the furby has two microprocessors that are the equivalent of the chips in the Commodore 64 computer of the early 80's (see Furby Autopsy). No one really knows the amount of computer memory furbies have, it's a trade secret. Another secret is what is known as "easter eggs". An "easter egg" is a secret trick that the programmers did without telling anyone, that you may accidentally stumble upon.
Furbies are designed to mimic learning. New vocabulary words will arise as time and interaction increase. They basically will go through four phases in their life, starting with infant where everything must "apparently" be learned. Learning is more rapid with a mature furby to educate a younger one.
I read that their creation was influenced by the popular pocket Giga Pets. You must feed them to keep them healthy and happy. Of course feeding entails the repeated pressing of his tongue sensor as he makes cheerful hungry comments.
Furbies come in a zillion different looks, all due to hair and eye color. Some have tails. There are several voice variations. Limited edition furbies may look like "Yoda" (actually an interactive yoda adapted from Furby) from Star Wars, or "Gizmo" from the 1984 movie Gremlins even.
I thank my sister for giving me one as a birthday gift, and then for giving my wife one on her birthday. We now have two, and have given a couple as gifts to others as well. A special thanks goes to Louis for educating and breaking us into the furby world. Fun!
One last note: According to Tiger Electronics, the plural for furby is furbys. I just can't bring myself to type it that way!
Robot 717's Robot Site
Official Tiger Electronics Furby site
Furby Questions and Answers and Tips
Blank Frank's Furby Stimulation page
The Fabulous Furby and Poo-Chi page
Furtropolis Furby webring
The Furby World webring
Furby Remote control software "Jope" for Palm Pilot