The puppet is a simple toy, but with a magic soul inside. It is composed by two different technologies which make it interactive: the first is on the puppet itself, a special coating fabric allowing the communication between the puppet and the screen; the second is internal to the puppet, a microcontroller which commands the light inside the puppet.

Read more about the how the puppet works following this link.

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As you can see in the image above the prototype I made is linked to a computer, but in the real project the puppet communicates with the tablet over the internet thanks to a specific Wi-Fi module placed inside the puppet (see below the scheme of the components).

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How the puppet interacts with the screen

The handle of the puppet is covered with a special conductive fabric which allows the flow of current coming from the tablet’s screen to the child’s hand. So, holding the puppet with the fingers placed on the special fabric, it is possible to interact with the screen directly with the puppet.

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At the basis of the puppet, there’s a pattern made out of three pieces of conductive foam, in contact with the surface of the screen. Different puppets have different patterns, given by the different distance between the three parts; in this way is possible to distinguish one puppet from the other. The tablet’s app is programmed to recognize the different patterns, so that each pattern become the personal ID of the puppet, associated to the respective child’s profile and story to listen.

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How the puppet interacts with the images

processing The app for the tablet is programmed with Processing, an open source platform for creating interactive digital graphics.

arduino In order to make the puppet live I used Arduino, an open source prototyping technology which allowed the communication between Processing and the little LED light placed inside the puppet.

 

The communication between the two is made through the serial port of a computer. Following you can see the code for coloring an image coded with Processing, and below the code for fading the LED into the puppet with Arduino. First, the creation of a mask:

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While the image is being colored, the signal is sent to Arduino, which will receive the signal and turn the LED gradually off:

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