Yuta Sugiura has created what could be one of the most awesome ways to terrorize your kids—if you're into that kind of thing. She's developed a very clever app that lets a camera-equipped smartphone breathe life and interactivity into a stuffed animal, without having to modify it in any way besides finding a way to get your phone inside.
The app can determine if a stuffed animal is being hugged, squeezed, or even moved, using the smartphone's camera and flash. As the toy is compressed, so is the soft foam inside, which decreases the brightness level of photos taken using the camera's flash. And in the same way an optical mouse can track movement by comparing sequential images, the app could easily determine if a plush toy is being moved and played with, automatically triggering sound effects as a result.
Having a stuffed animal demand a child go back to sleep when they thought no one was looking would be an awesome parenting tool. But using this app for pranks is even more tantalizing... unless your child is so scared they toss the stuffed animal across the room with your expensive phone inside. Hm, we better rethink this. [YouTube via IEEE Spectrum]