The PINOKY ring turns your plush toys into soft robots
By Jan Belezina
January 4, 2012
Bringing your childhood memories back to life has never been easier, at least when it comes to your plush friends. Toys that were never designed for movement can now be animated thanks to a simple ring-like device called PINOKY designed by a group of researchers from Keyo University and the University of Tokyo, as part of the Igarashi Design Interface Project. Simply snap the ring around a plush toy's limb, or any other plush extremity for that matter, and marvel at the sight of your favorite childhood friend waving at you vigorously.
PINOKY rings are wireless and can be controlled remotely, so you don't have to worry about your plush toy falling over some unnecessary cables. You can also teach the rings the right movements by manipulating the plush limbs manually in the recording mode and then replaying the sequence.
Each unassuming ring incorporates a micro-controller, a ZigBee microchip (for radio frequency connectivity), a lithium-polymer battery, a servomotor, a photoreflector (used to measure the angle at which the joint is bent), and a pair of magnetic clasps. PINOKY does not interfere with the structure of the toy, so you can rest assured your buddy won't be harmed. The servomotor simply pushes down a small bar that presses against the toy limb and makes it tilt to the extent dictated by the photosensor.
It's a very simple trick but it has great potential to make people smile, which has been "scientifically documented" in the video below.