When it comes to facing your own mortality, there are few things better than a grinning skull with creepy eyeballs. And when it comes to really freaking you out, the only way to make a grinning skull worse is to connect it to a computer and make it jerk around and gape like some degloved animatronic Abraham Lincoln from hell.
Thankfully, Mike McGurrin, a programmer and roboticist, has provided us with just the right kind of DIY robot for the job. His clever hack connects two Raspberry Pi computers and some position sensors to let his creepy robot head copy his own head movements. The system uses an Adafruit Inertial Measurement Unit to drive a servo motor, and the computers and sensor sit on a fashionable baseball cap, essentially chaining him to the skull for all eternity (or at least until he takes off the hat.)
“A few years back I presented my Yorick Alexa project at a local Hack & Tell meeting,” McGurrin wrote on his website. “At the meeting, someone asked if I could hook up a microphone to provide the voice, rather than Alexa. That is a pretty trivial change (much easier than getting Alexa interfaced in the first place), but from that, I had the idea of capturing a person’s head motions for the skull in real-time, rather than using pre-canned, repeated routines. This Mimic project was the result.”
McGurrin’s open-source code is available online and he even includes links to all the components he used to build the robot. Sadly he hasn’t made the jaw open and close yet, which would really add the cherry on the top of this memento mori sundae of the macabre.