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Here’s a bit of Tamagotchi hacking. There are a few versions of these virtual pets and I found some on sale at the local Mega-Mart. They can communicate via IR, so I figured it might be time to document how they chat with each other and explore the possibility of making a “virtual” virtual pet to live on my cell phone or other devices, including an iPod (imagine having to feed your iPod music or it dies)… Anyway, it could be a neat project for kids to see how these little fellas work, there are millions of them. Here’s the start of what I am up to, photos and samples of the “chatter”….There are a few versions of Tamagotchi, I have the “connection” versions from late last year which seem to be the most ubiquitous as far as Tamagotchi’s go. At the end of this article I have codes for the other versions if you’re interested. There’s not too much as far as cheat codes go for version 1, but they can talk to each other via IR, so that was all it took for me to want to document and create a virtual, virtual version….I’d really like to document all the IR codes, then make a virtual one that can live in my phone or Pocket PC so I can feed or play with any other one without carrying them around. Also, if I can figure this out- I could use an iPod to “play” a Tamagotchi track and fool other virtual pets. More on that later.

Packaging
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Tamagotchi connection. These were less than $10 at the local Mega-Mart. It’s too bad the packaging could be made into a little home or something…

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Back of packaging.

The kids
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I picked up two and name them MAKE and ZINE.

Raising the Tamas
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I raised each one for awhile, feeding them, cleaning their space, just like you’re told.

Hi MAKE, hi ZINE
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Once you raise them, or even before you can connect them up and one can visit another, make friends, exchange presents and play games. They do this via IR (infrared). It’s similar to the way your TV remote control works.

What it looks like when they talk
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Here’s a video of what the IR looks like when you point it at a web camera (Quicktime MOV). To record the “IR” I use a special device….

Recording via an IR device
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Since they communicate via IR I used my Griffin Total Remote sound to IR gadget. This device was meant to be used with a Pocket PC, turning it into a remote control- but I use it to record IR signals directly in to a Mac or PC. You can pick one of these up for under $20 on Froogle, Froogle-like services and/or Ebay. I popped the Total remote in to test and saw there was “some” type of signal when I tried to connect up the MAKE Tamagotchi.

Recording
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For recording, I used SoundForge, but you can use just about any sound recording tool.

Single serving virtual friend
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Success! Here’s what the Tamagotchi “sounds” like when it tries to connect up with a pal. Here’s the WAV file if you’re interested in downloading it or using it.

Inter-species breeding
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From here I could stop and just do a lot of trial and error to see what works and doesn’t. One example- if you transfer the WAV file to an iPod or other portable music player you can use the Total Remote IR gadget to “play” the sound through the headphone jack (Making it stereo with one track blank seems to work, converting it to MP3). Eventually, I think it would be possible to have a playlist of IR “sounds” just for the Tamagotchi.

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I’d really like to develop an iPod (or Podzilla) virtual pet that lives and dies based on how much I feed it music, clear out the old music and rate the music I have. I think I’d use my music players more if I had to care for them like pets.

Mounting virtual pets
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On to the “chatter” capture, I mounted each one to a holder used for electronics. I wanted to capture what the devices do when they’re talking to each other, playing games and other activities.

Tamagotchi Torture
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Here they are in a little Tamagotchi torture system where I force them to talk as I listen in. I saw this on Alias once I think.

Chatter Capture
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Here’s the “group” chatter (WAV) I need to figure out how to clean up the noise and boost the real data that’s coming across.

Next steps
…So that’s it for now, I’ve managed to get a few tester files to talk to the little dudes, but not much more than that. Instead on just putting this on the shelf, I wanted to post this up and see if others are interested. I see IR on many of my devices, but never use it, there are over 40 million of these types of virtual pets out in the wild, it would be interesting to use them to do something other than take up space in landfills when they become boring.

1. …need to capture the chatter in a better way, I’m looking in devices that can grab the IR better.
2. …need to write a little Flash application that can play and response the IR.
3. …need to crack these guys open and boost the IR (I kinda feel bad, I’ve been raising them, but science is science).

Post up in the comments with ideas, suggestions and updates. Check back here from time to time to see what’s been updated!

On to the codes
Here are some codes for version one, they “seem” to work, but sometimes I can’t tell if some of the results were the random nature of these pets. For you lucky folks with version 2, here are the codes:

ACBCABAC = Hair potion
CBAACABC = Costume
ABBACBCC = Whole Cake
BACBCACB = Steak
BCBACABA = Love Potion
To use them- go to the shop keeper in the games section (the little bat) and enter them. For more on these codes
visit tamatalk.