Real-time head-tracking control of animatronic skull

Home Robotics Technology

Cool video from the folks at who are selling an add-on to Brookshire’s Visual Show Automation (VSA) package. The software is tracking the head movements of an operator wearing a special IR-active headpiece, and translating them into real-time motions of an animatronic skull.

Make: Halloween Contest 2009

Microchip Technology Inc. and MAKE have teamed up to present to you the Make: Halloween Contest 2009! Show us your embedded microcontroller Halloween projects and you could be chosen as a winner.

6 thoughts on “Real-time head-tracking control of animatronic skull

  1. Rich says:

    Positively creepy. Totally cool.

    1. Anonymous says:

      I’m confused as to what they claim to have created here. The IR-tape on the hat confirms that the head-tracking device being used is called a “TrackIR”, made by NaturalPoint. This device, already in use in hundreds of games and software packages, has a full API that can be used with relative ease to design software for the 3D-tracking device. So I suppose all they’ve really done here is translate the API’s movement instructions in to actuator controls to move the skull. It’s neat, but they didn’t real “do” anything that has to do with tracking head position. All the hard work here, in my opinion, was done by a $120 piece of hardware that I have on my monitor as well.

      1. MonkeyBasic says:

        You are correct… I am using the TrackIR API to do the dirty work, but the software also has a lot of other features, such as Joystick motion capture and export to VSA for later use. To see all that TrackSkull can do, please visit

        Also, this software is provided for FREE!!!

Comments are closed.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan