« Wherein I avoid references to “The Matrix” while discussing futuristic playground equipment. | Main | My hometown earns Playful City USA honor »

PINOKY: Bringing your stuffed animals to life. But not in a creepy way.

Go ahead. You try wiggling your ears without help. It’s tough.

Two weeks ago I had opportunity to present a research game called Scoop! at the ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (What a mouthful. Everybody just calls it “CHI 2012”.)

One project was the singlularly most delightful of everything I saw. From the PINOKY abstract:

PINOKY is a wireless ring-like device that can be externally attached to any plush toy as an accessory that animates the toy, such as by moving its limbs. A user is thus able to instantly convert any plush toy into a soft robot. The user can control the toy remotely or input the movement desired by moving the plush toy and having the data recorded and played back. Unlike other methods for animating plush toys, PINOKY is non-intrusive, so alterations to the toy are not required.

Trust me. You want to watch the video. Not only does the device allow you to animate parts of essentially any plush toy, it’s also able to wirelessly communicate with other actuators and even record and playback simple motions. This means one can cause a fuzzy octopus to dance.

It was remarkable to experience the reaction of the audience. Despite their probing questions, hard core researchers and sensibly minded professionals alike were all charmed by this very playful technology. I was gratified that the team that developed PINOKY did not attempt to use this concept to somehow gamify plush toys. This was play — pure and simple.

For more, including a photo gallery, see this Wired article (from which the photo at the beginning of this post comes).

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend