Voodoo Bear, ITP Winter Show 2012 Documentation

Voodoo Bear is a project that came out of the Physical Computing class at ITP. Our intent was to create an intuitive, engaging and unique experience that blends the traditional, expected interaction one typically enjoys with a cuddly teddy bear with the playful, semi-nefarious dealings of a voodoo doll. The experience begins when the user submits their twitter handle into the iPad. They are then encouraged to do whatever they please with the bear.

We built switches in the hands, ears and feet, along with flex sensors in the front and back of the bear that are linked to a text to speech module through an Arduino. When the user hugs the bear (or squeezes his ears, feet or paws) he says a positive (albeit, snarky) spoken response. Conversely, we also stuffed the bear with conductive steel wool, connected it to the arduino and linked the steel wool to a long metal pin. If the user chose to, they could stab the bear and he would voice his displeasure towards the participant in real time. The spoken feedback the bear offered the user was often humorous. Needless to say, we were happy to witness and share lots of laughter from the nearly 200 visitors who interacted with Voodoo Bear during the winter show.

At the end of the interaction, Voodoo Bear would tweet something to the user based on an aggregate of their experience. For every stab or hug, a point tally was compiled and tracked that was reflected in the tweet. If the user had an overall positive score, he would offer some sort of complement. On the other hand, if the user just stabbed the bear, and received an overall negative score, she would get a nasty note sent to her twitter handle. The anticipation the user had in waiting to see what score and tweet the bear would send was a highlight for many.

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All photographs courtesy of Sergio Majluf

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Voodoo Bear Creative Team: Colin Narver Myriam Melki Sergio Majluf Vanessa Joho