Robotic Petting Zoo Replaces Animals With Plastic Tentacles

“This is about as humane as it gets using technology. In this Mashable article from Eva Recinos, we discover an art exhibit that uses XBox Kinect technology to replace live animals with the ‘sensory experience’ of petting a live animal. The robotic zoo was conceptualized and created by Stephen and Theodore Spyropoulos.”

via Mashable

It calls itself a petting zoo — but this installation at a French art center looks a lot different from what you might expect.

The architecture and design team Minimaforms, formed by brothers Stephen and Theodore Spyropoulos, created a robotic Petting Zoo that uses XboxKinect sensors to bring animal-like qualities to plastic tubes.

Now on display at the FRAC Centre, the tubes hang from the ceiling waiting for curious visitors to interact with them. They can move playfully or angrily, mimicking the reactions of animals in a traditional petting zoo. They also light up different colors to accentuate their reactions.

“Petting Zoo” uses Processing to program the plastic tubes’ movements. The structures can identify more than one person at a time and determine which viewers seem the most friendly.

As Minimaforms’ website explains, the structures use “camera tracking” and “data scanning” to detect human visitors and their movements. The use of “real time camera streams” makes for a truly interactive experience. Even if viewers simply stand in front of the structures, the plastic structures might react to show their boredom.

The team also used Processing to avoid repetitive behavior and allow the plastic tubes to create their own sorts of personalities. Each structure can detect more than one person at a time, and respond accordingly.

video shows the structures interacting with humans by changing colors and moving when touched. They can interact through specific modes — named “follow,” “play” and “angry” — which use different colors. In the “angry” mode, for example, the plastic tubes light up red and bounce around as if annoyed.

One thing this petting zoo doesn’t require: those little food pellets you may remember from childhood trips.

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