A clothing retailer at Tokyo’s airport now features MarionetteBots in their storefront. The MarionetteBot is part mannequin and part robot. Using Kinect technology, wires and motors, the Bots are able to mimic the body movements of passersby. Far from eliciting the uncanny and uncomfortable responses (roboticists refer to this as the uncanny valley) from the public, people featured here seem very willing to engage with the MarionetteBot and seem to regard them as pleasurable and entertaining. Perhaps it is the conscious use of marionette string that provides a bit of comfort against the sudden animation of the MarionetteBot. Very clever and charming, I see this as yet another small encroachment of robotics into daily life. This video also reminds me the 1987 film, Mannequin (Kim Cattrell) as well as the more recent Lars and the Real Girl (2007) with its emphasis on the fantasy of high fashion and aesthetic beauty.
The advertising agency who conceived of the MarionetteBots is TBWA Haduhodo and the Marionettes were created by Shoichiro Matsuoka.