UK maker Rosemarybeetle builds some fantastic-looking creations. Most recently, he published build instructions to make his gruesome and slightly terrifying web-controlled puppet, called Twitr_janus. I’m seriously impressed by this maker’s wide range of talents. Twitr_janus’ face was first modeled in clay, then cast in silicone latex, and the final visage was made from hot glue poured into the mold. The head was formed by carving polystyrene, paper machéing over the top, and then removing the polystyrene to leave a hollow skull, ready to hold the brains (an Arduino). The eyeballs are made from the balls in roll-on deodorant containers!
Thanks to a webcam with built-in microphone in one of those eyeballs, the puppet operator can see and hear everything that Twitr_janus sees and hears. Among other things, the puppet can speak tweets sent to its Twitter account, move its jaw in time with its speech using a car door-lock actuator, and shift its unsettling gaze using data from a Google spreadsheet. On his blog, Making Weird Stuff, he goes into much more detail about each step of the process.
@twitr_janus is a live physical avatar – a puppet that can be controlled remotely over the Internet using the data sources of common web services like Google Drive and Twitter and direct web-enabled services such as Skype. It is a (very) crude alpha prototype that demonstrates several simple ways to remotely interact physically using web data services or piggybacking the connectivity of audio/visual web services.
Its real point though, is to demonstrate how real-time sensory interaction can be achieved by hacking together feeds, APIs or just features of common freebie web services. It can see you, hear you, talk to you and move its eyes to watch you. That’s not creepy at all.
Do yourself a favor and check out some of Rosemarybeetle’s other really cool projects: