I’ve been interested in the possibilities of digital puppetry for a long time. I started a blog called Machin-X devoted to the subject back in 2005 and I’ve even experimented with my own digital puppetry system. The idea of digital puppets isn’t new; Jim Henson created Waldo C. Graphic – the first true digital puppet character – back in 1985, but what’s different today is that what once took a team of computer scientists and hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollar you can now hack together yourself using a PC and some basic knowledge of computer scripting languages.
The new Kinect for Xbox 360 seems to offer all kinds of interesting possibilities for digital puppetry, especially since it’s already been hacked. Two designers, Emily Gobeille and Theo Watson, have already whipped up this digital puppet prototype with it. It’s a 2D puppet that uses skeleton tracking on an arm to control the movement and posture of the puppet. They hacked it together in just a day using open-source Kinect drivers, which is pretty cool.
I think we’ll see a lot more stuff like this using the Kinect very, very soon.