For the home that apparently doesn't have everything - an interactive Triceratops
By Ben Coxworth
July 20, 2011
"You know what your living room needs? A giant animatronic Triceratops." Should an interior designer ever offer you this advice, well, now you know where to find such a beast. Fancy goods-seller Hammacher Schlemmer is now offering a 20 foot (6 meter)-long, 1,345-pound (610 kg) model of everyone's favorite three-horned dinosaur, that moves and growls when human gawkers trigger its motion sensors. Its price tag might scare more people than its fearsome countenance, although at US$350,000, it's probably still cheaper than cloning your own real Triceratops from amber-encased dinosaur-blood-filled mosquitoes.
The models being offered are based on a single original unit, created for an animatronic dinosaur exhibit that took place last May in Chicago. The copies will be built on a per-order basis by Japanese robotics company Kokoro, utilizing interactive software created by Texas-based KumoTek Robotics.
At the heart of the Triceratops is a steel and aluminum frame, covered with a polyurethane foam body and textured silicone skin. Motion-activated cameras in each eye, working with hexacore processors and KumoTek's software, allow it to recognize the facial features of multiple human subjects and then track their movements. Depending on what its observers do, the dinosaur will respond by doing things such as swaying its head in up to four directions, stomping and scuffing its right front leg, or opening its mouth and growling via an internal 1,000-watt speaker. Its movements are made possible through a series of digitally controlled servos and silent, pneumatic air-activated cams.
Before sending Hammacher Schlemmer your 350 grand, however, you'll probably want to see the beast in action. To do so, just check out the video that the Chicago Tribune posted on last year's exhibit - the Triceratops comes in at about the 50-second mark.