By Andrew Liszewski
My gut instinct is that I can probably do without this 20-foot animatronic Triceratops available from none other than Hammacher Schlemmer. But I’m worried that if I don’t act now, I might not find one again at the low, low price of just $350,000. Especially one that was featured at the The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, and is not only animated, but actually responds to motion and onlookers.
Motion-activated cameras installed into each eye work in unison with customized interactive software that enables the Cretaceous creature to recognize multiple subjects’ facial features. Once identified, subjects’ tracked movements trigger a set of responses: it sways its tri-horned head right, left, up, and down, stomps and scuffs its right forelimb, and opens its jaws while growling–all powered by digitally controlled servos and silent, pneumatic air-activated cams. Its exterior is crafted by professional sculptors from polyurethane foam and textured silicone over a steel and aluminum frame, replicating the beast’s massive horned frill, powerful hindquarters, and tapered tail with convincing realism. The rumbles that issue from a hidden 1,000-watt speaker are based on paleontological approximations of what sounds the original 67 million year-old saurian might have vocalized.
And even though I don’t have a license to charge people admission to see it, I still think it would make for a better alternative to a garden gnome.