Japanese researchers demo teddy bear input devices

robot bear input device cropped

This bizarre trend of teddy bear electronics that started with Ruxpin is taking a new twist now that a bunch of researchers in Japan, who may not have had many toys as children, seem to be making up for their lost youths by building stuffed bears that control on-screen PC activities. Way more useful than the cellular squirrel, this type of input, the Robotic User Interface (RUI), is meant to overcome some of the limitations of current WIMP (windows, icons, menus, pointing device) methods of navigating and controlling a computer. As you might expect, manipulating the bear's body parts translates into similar movements by an on-screen avatar, with haptic feedback (ala the rumble pack) mimicking the on-screen activity. For their proof of concept, these Peter Pan-types created a decidedly lo-res air hockey video game, with digital bears battling one another for the coveted title of "World's Best Teddy Bear Air Hockey Player." This seems like a very promising technology, and we are waiting with bated breath for a stuffed pimp we can use to play Grand Theft Auto. [Warning: PDF link]

[Via pasta and vinegar]