Kinect hack helps monkey see, monkey do

Everybody needs a robotic, dancing monkey in their lives – and if that one’s designed to mimic your every move, that’s something a bit special, right? We’ve seen a bunch of hacks for Kinect, but this one’s a little different.

The simple stuffed monkey has been modified a touch, with a new robotic skeleton added, and suspended from the wall. Then there’s an Arduino microcontroller, a Kinect camera sensor and ten tiny servo motors. The end result is an art installation, created by Jan M. Sieber and Ralph Kistler, called Monkey Business.

A cuddly toy monkey hanging on a wall like a Jumping Jack.
With a friendly “Hello” the puppet starts to react to the visitors movements
and immediately apes every gesture with its arms and legs, its head and body.
You can let the ape act smoothly or invite him to a wild dance.
But in a subtle way the monkey asks for another move you have never ever performed before.
Playing the game you will loose control unconsciously
and after the seductive encounter you might start wondering
what is all this monkey business about?
Who pulls the strings?

According to its creators, the work has been designed to reflect the problem of real natural interaction, in a playful way. It’s also an ironic comment about the present art business, they say. Personally, I just think it’s cute and – honestly – wouldn’t be all that difficult to sell, if marketed appropriately. You can’t tell me you don’t want one to hang on your wall, at least for a little while, right?

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