Between their huge imaginations and their charming ability to turn everything into a game, children love the idea of their stuffed animals coming to life. Classic kid’s movies and cartoons present tales of animated toys, talking teddy bears, and children that can communicate with their toys.
Children see stuffed animals as their first and most loyal friends, and the ability to witness “life” in these treasured toys keeps children’s creativity alive. Pretending they can talk back allows children to play with their stuffed animals in the most inventive ways.
In today’s technological age, science found a way to bring stuffed animals to life through motion.
By using soft robotics, researchers at Yale University developed robotic skins that animate inanimate objects. Made with elastic sheets and full of sensors and actuators, the robotic skins can animate objects and make them perform different tasks. The skins help objects walk, move, or grasp and move another object.
The leader of the research and an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio and her team developed the skins to use as soft robots with large implications. The idea is that researchers can use the robotic skins to wrap around deformable materials to create improvised robots for situations where they might prove helpful. For example, astronauts could use the skins in space to attach to objects and deploy for exploration.
Dubbed OmniSkin, the researchers wrapped the robotic skin around a stuffed horse’s legs to make it walk across a table, animating the stuffed animal in a new and exciting way.
These researchers, just like our children, are inventing unique ways to bring stuffed animals to life. Find your children a new stuffed friend from The Zoo Factory, your source for buildable, stuffable animals and dolls.