Photograph by Ian Waldie—Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Robert Hackett
April 19, 2016

What could be better than asking a virtual assistant for help? How about asking a virtual assistant to summon another one to call upon yet another one?

A developer by the name of Leon Nicholls engineered an amusing relay between the voice-powered assistants of top tech giants. He created a cheeky chain of command between Amazon’s (amzn) Alexa, Google (goog) Now, and Apple’s (aapl) Siri.

First, Nicholls rigged up a cheap, modifiable computer known as a Raspberry Pi with Amazon’s Alexa Skills Kit, a collection of tools that lets users program new features into the voice service. Then he asked this homemade machine to query an Amazon Echo intelligent speaker system sitting beside it on a tabletop.

“Ask Alexa how to use Siri,” Nicholls commands, sparking the electronic exchange.

“Alexa, ask Google how to enable ‘Hey Siri,'” the device orders, passing the baton.

“Okay Google,” Amazon’s black cylinder replies, using keywords that activate a Google Nexus 6P phone at its base. “How do I enable ‘Hey Siri’?”

The phone pauses to search for an answer—on Google, of course.

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“According to Macworld,” the handset says before launching into a tutorial excerpted from the Apple-obsessed blog. Then it utters the magic words: “Hey Siri.”

An iPhone 6S takes a moment to recognize the call. It awakens, asking no person or device in particular, “Yes?”

Siri is left hanging, and the conversation reaches a dead end. (Notably absent in Nicholl’s pecking order: Microsoft’s (msft) Cortana.)

While the companies behind these voice systems stake out their territory through a combination of hardware and software, all vying for a share of the nascent market for virtual assistants, it’s amusing how a little droll hacking can get them to chatter amongst themselves. The more the merrier, no?

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