No. 65

Frankenstein AI: Collaborative Physical Controllers

By : kahodesu

Entrant’s location : Kaho in Japan, Ramsey in USA



A collaborative physical controller for the Frankenstein AI immersive theater experience at the 2018 Sundance Film festival. Wood, metal, electrically conductive fabric tape, Microsoft Surface Studio computer with touch screen Physical controller: 1.5cm x 6.5cm x 6cm Microsoft Surface computer: 1.25cm x 63.735cm x 43.890cm, 9.56 kg

What did you create?

The Frankenstein AI collaborative controller is a tool where two users collaboratively answer questions in the beginning of a immersive theater project first shown at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018. The controller can only be used when both users are touching the tool together simultaneously, and is used by gently pushing the “O” toward words that appear on the touch screen. In this way the answers from the users become data that is then fed into the larger Frankenstein AI system. Kaho and Ramsey designed the interaction together. Kaho designed and fabricated the hardware, and Ramsey wrote the screen based program. The controllers are a part of a larger project, Frankenstein AI, which is lead by Lance Weiler and Nick Fortugno.

Why did you make it?

We were interested in allowing people to collaborate and in building a tool to enhance that collaboration. It was important to us to allow the face to face negotiation between the two people to drive the whole experience, as opposed to having the software calculate some kind of result. The ways that two people can interact in a physical setting are infinite and we did not want to build a tool that would constrain that. The tool acts as a guide for the two strangers, giving their experience a context and moving their conversation towards a coordinated answer by offering them prompts.

How did you make it?

The rings are pre-cut wooden “O”’s. The perforated metal sheets were cut to fit on the ring. There is electrically conductive fabric tape stuck to the underside of the perforated metal surface that runs down along the inside of the ring. At the bottom side of the ring, the electrically conductive tape strips connect to the four conductive pads. These pads come into contact with the touch screen, and create an effect as if four fingers are touching the screen. The software then reads the four pads as fingers, and relays the data to the larger Frankenstein AI system. The code for the screen experience is written in JavaScript using Pixi.js and ran in an Electron application. The code is available at

Your entry’s specification

Physical controller: 1.5cm x 6.5cm x 6cm, 50 g Microsoft Surface Computer: 1.25cm x 63.735cm x 43.890cm, 9.56 kg The surface computer is embedded into a table with the touch screen facing upwards. The participants sit at the table facing each other. They control the experience on the touch screen by moving the controller across the screen together. The controller only activates when both participants are using it together.