Welcome to earth, Mr. TJ* Roboto

Ladies and gentlemen, meet TJ*, the robotic puppet.  He’s a toy for creative kids, a tinkering platform for electronic hackers, and an educational tool for parents and educators. And he is seeking your help.

TJ* is the creation of Jeff Kessler. Kessler, a mechanical engineering student at Stanford, originally dreamed of using his remote-controlled wonder in a short film as a virtual actor. Though the movie didn’t get made, Kessler began to saw an opportunity for a business.  As Kessler told Stanford News Service:

“Through my classes at the [school] . . . I’ve been able to look at TJ* as a product, not just as a toy for myself.”

With the help of Kickstarter, Kessler has managed to gather over $27,000 in financial support to be invested into TJ*-related work.

TJ* is about three-fifths the size of a human head and made of fiberboard. His eyes move in along two different axes and his mouth opens and closes. Everything is programmable hackable.

For techies of all ages, TJ* presents an exciting opportunity for designing and customizing robotic devices.  Since the robot is open-source, designers can write new programs and have it respond to sensors.

Kessler shared one of us his ideas for the future of TJ*:

“What I’d like is an online forum where people share programs that they’ve written just for TJ*.”

Ultimately, Kessler hopes that he’ll be able to use both TJ* and his own creative skills to work with a movie studio or production company.

With the help of innovators like Kessler, maybe technology like this will soon be within the grasp of even the most tech-challenged among us to understand and use.  I wouldn’t mind a robot that I could program to laugh at my jokes.

You can learn more about TJ* at his website.