Under the Table


My plan was creating a playful interaction with the public by referring to a cliché scene.
At this occasion, re-interpretation of a cliché facilitates the process of telling the joke and allows setting-up the scene with the minimum elements since there is already a reference in people’s mind.

After some complicated ideas, I have decided to imitate the typical scene of someone who plays footsie under the table. One of the great advice of Demi, in class, was not to approach to the piece as an on/off action, instead make sure that it keeps moving even in a subtle way and then with the trigger reveal the bigger surprise. Therefore, we’ve included the constant rocking movement, which helped to catch the attention of the people in the gallery as soon as they saw the legs.

 – Two high-torque servos
–  Maxbotix Ultrasonic range finder: http://www.maxbotix.com/Ultrasonic_Sensors/MB1000.htm
Maxbotix is more expensive comparing to what we are using in general, but I recommend especially for people detection. Its coding is easy and from testing to the execution process, it went smooth.
– Chicken wires
– Galvanized wires for shoes and forming the legs
– N-Channel MOSFETs (2 MOSFETs for each servo)
– Capacitors and resistors




Another great recommendation was from Reza. The chicken wires saved me incredible time in the execution process. I wrapped the wires around my legs to create the form instead of using a display model as a template.

This amazing robot hand tutorial provided me insights about how I can solve the mechanism. The most time-consuming part of the structure was creating the shoes. The core movement was focused on the foot, so it has to look elegant as much as possible. I kept everything light and avoid using any clothing or shoes not only because of the weight of the materials but also was afraid to make the concept looks tacky.

The biggest challenge was to make the movements looks organic and smooth as possible in the coding process. In order to do that, I’ve been recommended to use ‘counter’ instead of ‘timer’, which kept running things at the same time. Also, I’ve created different possible states for each leg position to control all the actions. The rest was fine-tuning to make the movement looks as human as possible. I created the shoes/foot by combining wires and fishing lines, which helped to produce a more natural movement.


During the show, I’ve noticed women were having more fun playing with the piece. They were approaching right away to figure out if something will happen when they get closer. They were coming back and playing again. Men were more distant if they are not in a group. Besides, one guy kicked the foot couple times, which was weird. (not the one in the picture)

The legs are now able to act just based on primitive instincts. In the future, adding some smartness could help the legs to be more selective, instead of checking everyone, and make the whole experience more interesting.