In Brief

'Marionettebots' in the window of a store in Shibuya, Japan create a whole new level of interaction between window-shopper and display.

Remember that movie Mannequin, with Kim Cattrall before she put the sex in Sex and the City? She plays a mannequin who comes to life. The plot is nonsensical and silly, but it did make one wonder what happened in department stores at night. In Japan, a nation obsessed with robots, the mannequins may not come to life, but they sure act like it.

A Shibuya branch of clothing label United Arrows, installed a unique window display in November that was sure to distract any passers-by. The mannequins on display are actually ‘marionettebots,’ i.e. marionettes and robots. They are held up by 16 wires, run by motor and linked to a Kinect box so that whatever movements an outside viewer makes, the marionette mimics.

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