Make that monkey move and dance like you! The Kinect Monkey Dance is a delightful hack that let’s users control the movement of a toy monkey. This video by Jan Sieber/Ralph Kistler displays this fun setup and the intricate movements that the toy monkey can make with the Kinect. In the video, the monkey is situated at the wall with wires to put power to its joints. The user then can manipulate the toy monkey to perform exactly what the user is doing through the Kinect. The Kinect’s motion capture retrieves the user data and puts them to the monkey, exhibiting impressive accuracy from a simple toy. The toy then can dance, move and perform salutations! Toys with Kinect can give kids great entertainment value!

Here is a description by the developers:

“Monkey Business” is an interactive installation where a cuddly toy monkey hangs like a Jumping Jack on the wall and apes the gestures of the user.  The system consists of a tracking camera sensor (Microsoft XBox Kinect) on top of the toy monkey for tracking the visitor‘s movements, a hidden computer to analyze and convert the tracking data (OpenNI Framework, osceleton, OSC), a programming patch (Processing) to process the data into movement angles and send it to a microcontroller board (Arduino) inside the toy‘s body, which controls ten servo motors attached to a metal sceleton and in this way moves the ape‘s arms, legs, head and body. The flexible suspension of the ape together with fast responding motors allows an astonishing quick-witted behavior and a tempting interaction experience for the user.  All technical devices are covered in order to facilitate a direct communication between the visitor and the soft toy. The work reflects in a playful way the problem of real natural interaction and states an ironic comment about the present art business through this iconic monkey figure.”

For more information about the Kinect Monkey Dance, visit the project’s website.

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  1. If you were able to take this same principle, however instead of using a monkey use a “mannequin”. You then allow it to send information to another “mannequin”, i.e. a phone call, you could then be able to have a conversation in Sign Language with someone in their own home using their native language, provided they were Deaf.


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