Creepy Cat Eyes with a Microsoft Kinect

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Ever feel like someone is watching you? Like, somewhere in the back of your mind, you can feel the peering eyes of something glancing at you? Tapping into that paranoia, is this Computer Science graduate project that was created during a “Tangible Interactive Computing” class at the University of Maryland by two bright young students named [Josh] and [Richard], with the help of HCIL hackerspace.

Their Professor [Dr. Jon Froehlich] wanted the students to ‘seamlessly couple the dual worlds of bits and atoms’ and create something that would ‘explore the materiality of interactive computing.’ And this relatively simple idea does just that, guaranteeing some good reactions. 

As you’ve probably gathered from the title, this project uses a Microsoft Kinect to track the movement of nearby people. The output is then translated into actionable controls of the mounted eyeballs producing a creepy vibe radiating out from the feline, robot poster.

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Behind the cardboard is mechanical brain with an embedded Arduino circuit, two Standard Servo TowerPro SG-5010 Motors, eight AA batteries, an IC Breadboard, and (of course) a Microsoft Kinect. The ‘third-eye’ sensor watches, waiting for someone to stroll by.

Once an unsuspecting person surfaces, the Arduino fires up the processing and rotates the wooden eyes tracking the individual as they walk nearby. And this is only the beginning. Soon other types of movie, or tv, or internet sensation Youtube posters will be hacked up into something similar.

So. what types of films, or shows, or ads do you think would scare people half-to-death if they saw eyes like this staring at them? Let us know if the comments.

Also, check out this video of this thing in action.

11 thoughts on “Creepy Cat Eyes with a Microsoft Kinect

  1. Before anyone complains, this is a project that is part of a graduate course. It is not a graduate project.

    In other words it was just another assignment. It was not a capstone project.

  2. Their Professor [Dr. Jon Froehlich] wanted the students to ‘seamlessly couple the dual worlds of bits and atoms’ and create something that would ‘explore the materiality of interactive computing.’

    This is very related to your future (un)employment.

  3. They should have used a Kit Cat clock, now that would have been creepy! Oh and if you don’t know what a Kit Cat clock is check it out…

  4. From his circuit diagram, it looks like he’s connecting 12v to the servos which are only meant to handle 4.8v – 6v. I wonder if the servos have some kind of protection built in?

    1. The way I am seeing the very Fritzingue schematics is that servos are hooked up to 6V, which they are designed for.

  5. All the pictures on the page are pretty creepy. The first image reminds me of the book, “how to tell if your cat is plotting to kill you”.

    Grapes have been used in Halloween spook houses for years as eyes, and I still get freaked out touching them.

    The eyes of this project would be creepy too if I saw them following me!

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