In a collaboration between design researchers from Keio University and the University of Tokyo in Japan as part of the Igarashi Design Interface Project, a ring-like device called ‘Pinoky’ has been created, which can animate soft toys and make them move.
Wired reports that Pinoky is externally attached to a toy as an accessory and can then move its limbs, ears or tail like a robot. The user can control the toy remotely or input a desired movement by adjusting the plush toy and have it recorded and played back. There is also a synchronisation function that lets you coordinate two Pinoky devices, either placed on different toys or on different parts of the same toy.
Each device contains a microcontroller, a Zigbee wireless microchip, a battery, servo motor, a sensor and magnets to attach it to the toy. The servo motor moves part of the toy back and forth by pushing into it repeatedly, creating the appearance of a wave or a wiggle. Check out this video of Pinoky in action: