Fritz: A Robotic Puppet

XYZdot created Fritz to provide folks with an inexpensive open platform that can be controlled and programmed via an Arudino microcontroller or indirectly via a PC. Many platforms exist for research purposes but most of them are not accessible, controllable or hackable to the average consumer. Other more commercially available animatronic heads are difficult to modify, customize or change to suit your own needs unless you are a reverse engineering expert. 

Fritz is an animatronic puppet that is controlled by an Arduino microcontroller. Fritz was created to provide an inexpensive introduction into robotics that is both entertaining, creative and educational. With an open source directive, Fritz is accompanied by a PC application to provide you with an easy to use interface in customizing and interacting with the project mechanics.

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Fritz comes with an open source desktop application currently written in CSharp for the Windows platform. The application communicates to Fritz over a USB connection to the Arduino board. There are several features that are unique to Fritz not found in other servo control applications: 

Drag and Drop – You can control Fritz using drag and drop interface that represents Fritz.  

Audio and Motion editor – All of this can be done over an audio channel to help synchronize Fritz’s movement to audio tunes, spoken words, etc.  

Text to Speech – The Fritz Controller can add spoken text as the audio background for motion sequences

For kids, Fritz is a great project to start with robotics and animatronics.  And once he is built, they can continue to learn and have fun by customizing him, adding features, making a movie starring Fritz, etc.  Fritz can even be a way to study the psychology of human expression and emotion.

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