Picture of Tracking Cat Eyes via Kinect

This instructable was made as part of the CS graduate course "Tangible Interactive Computing" at the University of Maryland, College Park taught by Professor Jon Froehlich. The course focused on exploring the materiality of interactive computing and, in the words of MIT Professor Hiroshii Ishii, sought to "seamlessly couple the dual worlds of bits and atoms. Please visit for more details.

This project involved the use of Microsoft Kinect and servo motors. Although a simple idea, you are guaranteed to get some reactions! As you probably guessed from the title, the general idea behind this project was to use a Kinect to track movement, and then use output from the Kinect to make cat eyes follow people as they walk by.

Shopping List

  1. Creepy Poster (we suggest a cat poster)
  2. 2x 1 1/2" Wooden Balls
  3. Paint
  4. 2x Standard Servo TowerPro SG-5010 Motors
  5. 8xAA Batteries (battery case optional)
  6. Arduino Uno
  7. IC Breadboard
  8. Microsoft Kinect
  9. Hot Glue Gun
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Select a Poster and cut out Eyeholes

Picture of Select a Poster and cut out Eyeholes

Go out to the store and find your favorite poster/painting. For aesthetic reasons, I recommend finding one that already has eyes printed on it. It will be easier to trace and cut out.

Step 2: Paint Eyeballs

Picture of Paint Eyeballs

Find some spherical object that will represent eyeballs. Anything round will work. It is important to use round balls that are bigger than the cut out eye holes. Otherwise, the eyeballs will not fill the hole and viewers will see behind the poster. For my poster, 1 1/2" wooden balls were sufficient. These can be found at most local craft shops. Grab some paint while you're there and paint on eyeballs. For maximum impact, the paint color and and pupil shape should match the figure before the eye holes were cut out. This will help the eyes blend into the poster and seem realistic.

This is information poor on execution, can anyone actually read this and reproduce the same thing? How does the Kinect interface with the Arduino? Look what I've made! Great for you! Can you tell us how exactly?

I think the key detail missing from the article and the photos is that there's a PC/laptop involved.

Kinect connects to a PC where the Processing program is running.

Arduino connects to that same PC via USB and waits for a sequence of coordinates/commands that it receives via the serial connection.

Can the kinect be programmed to detect certain animals eg a dog?

samalert1 year ago

It cud have been done with single servo too without gears.

This is awesome!