HAL-9000, the malevolent supercomputer at the heart of Stanley Kubrick's classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, is an icon of science fiction movies. So much so, that if you ask any of the virtual assistants to "Open the doors of the capsule bay," they will repeat the HAL lines of the movie behind you. Now, Master Replicas Group wants to go a step further, making HAL a virtual assistant who can control their home.
The name of the company could be familiar to costume and costume fans: Master's original reproductions produced a range of high-quality franchise accessories such as Star Wars and Star Trek before closing a decade. If you have seen someone swinging around a lightsaber, it is very likely that it is one of the accessories of Master Replicas, or that it is based on their models. The new company is made up of several former employees, who are returning to the activity of replica prop with a new range of products, which includes an interactive replica of HAL.
This is not the first time anyone thinks of putting HAL on their smart devices: a couple of years ago, the manufacturer of accessories for fans GoldenArmor created its own version that allows someone to mount on your Nest Thermostat. The support of MRG goes a little further. He recently obtained the Warner Bros. license to create an exact replica of the iconic computer and, although most props replicas are static recreations of a film or movie, this version is designed to be interactive, using Amazon's intelligent assistant , Alexa.
MRG general manager Steve Dymszo told The Verge that he made his own replicas of the HAL panel at a previous company, Artifactory, and contacted Warner Bros. to try to obtain a license for the product. Initially, the studio was not interested, but with the 50th anniversary of the film this year, the company was granted the rights to produce its own line of replica props for the film.
One of those replicas is an interactive version of HAL. The company says the computer will use Amazon's Echo technology to control their home, using a Fire HD tablet as a base, along with additional lights, microphones, speakers and their own software that the company has installed.
Dymszo explains that MRG initially combined two projects: a static support and an interactive computer, which was planned to run a Raspberry Pi with LCD, only to realize that they could perform the same task with a Fire HD tablet.
In a short demonstration video, a user asks the question, getting an answer in HAL's voice, before switching to Alexa for the weather. The device includes the Fire HD tablet to replicate some of the interfaces of the movie and to display Alexa information. Currently, the device is only loaded with lines from the movie, which are activated with the words of Alexa's Wake, but Dymszo says that the goal is for the device to work completely with HAL's voice, and that they are working for Amazon to do so. approve . "It's the first replica prop that can be updated," says Dymszo, saying they want the device to work less like a tablet, and more like an object in the movie. However, it will act just like your virtual assistant, will search for news or weather and will control any smart device that may have been installed in your home.
The company will begin pre-ordering the device in April and plans to start shipping in August or September. Dymszo says the company will launch a separate Kickstarter in April for a numbered special series of accessories: 1 to 2001, with special levels for 1, 1968 and 2001. He says that they have already started production of the devices.
The HAL computer is not the only project in the pipeline: the company already sells a glorified screensaver that runs through a series of computer screens on the film, and will launch a mini-HAL keychain flash unit that powers up when plugged in. The company also has a license with the Smithsonian, and launches a range of art products, such as posters and replicas of lunar and martian functions.
Dymszo hopes that the product will attract beyond the community of prop players, while remaining faithful to those roots. "It's a replica that acts as his assistant," he said.