Teddy Bear Vision – Final Documentation

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Teddy Bear Vision was inspired by an early neuroscience experiment (Marr & Nishihara, Phil Trans R Soc Lond B, 275: 483, 1976) in which the visual system’s processing of orientation selectivity was mapped out @ contrast borders’ location. Here is an image from the original experiment:

In my project, I ran with the quirky teddy bear theme. I created 2 separate processing sketches, which were displayed on alternating screens in the Robert Zemeckis Media Lab at USC. In one sketch, I animated a number of image manipulations of the teddy bear (about 13 variations), inspired by how the visual system might process a single object in multiple separate ways. The sketch displays the various images based on the viewer’s proximity to the bear (using a sonar sensor).

The second sketch captures the teddy bear’s perspective, if he could only see the contrast edges as rotated lines. This sketch manipulates video (slowed down to 1 fps) captured from a webcam embedded in the teddy bear’s eye.

The teddy bear also rotates back-and forth in an odd way. When the viewer gets too close, he jerks to a stop, staring at the viewer, and his other eye lights up (through fiber optic thread connected to red LED’s). This adds creepy humor, and is a nod to old jerky animatronic animals.

Below, see documentation of the entire set-up:

Teddy Bear Vision — Arduino Experiment from Amanda Tasse on Vimeo.

The following video displays the various layers of the 1st processing sketch, in a linear way. In the physical project, the layers would be displayed based on distance.

Teddy Bear Vision — Processing Render from Amanda Tasse on Vimeo.

If I were to take the project further, I would neaten it up through sautering the connections, hiding wires, and using a permanent adhesive to connect the servo to the brass tubing inside the bear. I’d build out the environment more, and possibly include sound, more text, and more strange bears. How about a room of dancing, talking bears that stops and stares at you when you enter it, or bears on wheels that chase you around? Toy Story gone awry.

I’ve always loved animatronics and enjoyed experimenting with their most basic principles. I diverged from the original proposal’s consideration of creating a blobby algae like progression in the animation, but would like to experiment with various biology inspired flocking, growing type techniques using procedural processes in the future. I also enjoyed experimenting with fiberoptics and like the idea of animating light behind them.

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