Generating Expressive Motion for Toy Robots

With the increasing accessibility and popularity of robot kits, microcontroller platforms, cheap actuators, and online hardware tutorials, more people are building or buying simple low-cost robots than ever before. How can we make these low-degree-of-freedom robots expressive and entertaining? This research looks at developing systems that lets lay users design movements and gestures for low-cost robots.


“Mirror Puppeteering” is a mechanism to create expressive animations for a simple robot by directly moving the robot’s limbs in front of a webcam “mirror”. Using only a webcam tracking temporary vision markers, the user puppeteers the robot in real-time, either all at once, or in layers, to generate the desired animations. The robot motors do not need position sensors.


Paper at TEI’15