Playing with this puppet will simultaneously generate movements in a 3D animated character on your computer screen.
According to a June 30 wired.co.uk article, a team at ETH Zurich’s Interactive Geometry Lab developed these “input puppets,” made of 3D-printed modular blocks that can be assembled to create any unique character shape you come up with. Each module has embedded sensors that can detect how a joint is bending or twisting — and this information is then transferred to a digital interface.
These input puppets, which require hands-on manipulation, offer a unique alternative to creating 3D computer animations, where one’s hands are usually kept on a computer mouse and keyboard. Using input puppets to animate is also less expensive than using motion-capture technology, wired.co.uk reports.
Professor Olga Sorkine-Hornung from ETH Zurich’s Institute of Visual Computing told wired.co.uk that input puppets make it easier to animate a digital object than the traditional keyboard and mouse interface.
“The key application is to animate characters for computer games or movies,” Sorkine-Hornung said. “Since the device is ‘physically there,’ you can hold it in your hands and it is three-dimensional, it becomes much easier to pose a character than manipulating its virtual representation on the computer screen using keyboard and mouse. It is almost like playing with a doll.”
It remains to be seen if input puppets will take off in the animation industry, but it’s clear that these dolls are a truly unique way to create animations by hand.