Mayeri and Kahn interacting with chimps via Kinect-based game. Photos by Rachel Mayeri.
Chimps at the Edinburgh Zoo are responding to on-screen chimp avatars whose movements are controlled through the actions of two human actors in the room next door. The two screens show two simultaneous views of the chimps in a voluntary research pod, front and back. The ape avatar was in development, and although it was spastic, two chimps appear to play with the screen and with each other.
After creating Apes as Family the film, Rachel Mayeri wanted a more interactive way to communicate with apes. She developed this Kinect-based ape avatar with Prof. Z Sweedyk, two students at Harvey Mudd College, Erin Coughlan and Kevin Vigue, and animator Janelle Miau. The work was supported by an HHMI grant in Computational Biology through HMC. Morgan Kahn played an ape with Rachel Mayeri in the test footage, and Steve Pallrand helped with the shoot.
We are still trying to fund this project, which we also want to adapt to teach humans how to act like chimpanzees in their world: http://www.metachimp.org/