Raspberry Pi powers creepy one-eyed, head-swiveling stuffed koala assistant with ChatGPT

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Spiritual_Aside_7859)

The Raspberry Pi community never ceases to amaze us when it comes to creating custom AI assistants. We've seen amazing holographic companions and even interactive rotary phones. However, this is the first one-eyed stuffed koala bear assistant we've seen, and we absolutely love it. This strange bear was created by a maker known as Spiritual_Aside_7859 on Reddit and is still technically a work in progress. However, there's quite a bit going on, and we wanted to share the work completed so far.

The koala bear assistant relies on a Raspberry Pi as the main board and also uses an Arduino Uno R4. They work together to ensure that the AI assistant functions work in tandem with the physical animations. The result is an interactive bear that talks and moves his head to peer around the room with its creepy eye.

At the moment, the koala assistant is interactive using a text interface. You can type messages that are then parsed through ChatGPT, which generates a response. Instead of relaying messages via text, the bear has a built-in speaker, so responses are spoken using text-to-speech.

In this project, Spiritual_Aside_7859 uses a Raspberry Pi 4, which is plenty capable of handling ChatGPT. However, you could get a performance boost by upgrading this to a Raspberry Pi 5. Some additional modules are thrown into the mix, including an OLED display for the eye, some WS2821B LED light strips for ambiance, and an ultrasonic sensor to detect people. Spiritual_Aside_7859 is also using a servo to turn the head so it can watch you from across the room—which is totally not creepy at all. 

Spiritual_Aside_7859 was kind enough to share details about how the project works at the official project thread shared on Reddit. Tools mentioned include FastLED to control the lights to respond to his mood and a Sparkfun library to handle the OLED screen with animations for the eyeball.

As we said before, this is a work in progress, and plans are in the works for new features. One of the most significant upgrades Spiritual_Aside_7859 plans to include is speech recognition so you can verbally communicate with the koala bear assistant. In the meantime, you can see what this Raspberry Pi project is capable of over at Reddit.

Ash Hill
Contributing Writer

Ash Hill is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware with a wealth of experience in the hobby electronics, 3D printing and PCs. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting while also finding the best coupons and deals on all tech.