When Mannequins Move

A store lures customers with marionettes that mimic humans.

A store lures customers with marionettes that mimic humans

Marionettes have a long history. In ancient Greece, they are thought to have acted out epics like "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey" for illiterate audiences. In Renaissance Italy, they performed morality tales to the masses. In the court of Burma, they occasionally acted as intermediaries between royals and their subjects, relaying coded, authorless messages without conveying disrespect. (As one history noted, "a marionette could say things that a human could never get away with.")

Now, marionettes are acting as another kind of intermediary: between store and consumer.

A department store in Japan used Kinect technology to create a new kind of marionette: one directed not (just) by strings and human will, but by strings and human will and interactive technology. Mannequins that move! And that mimic your movements! Whether you happen to find the mannequin-marionettes in the video above incredibly awesome or incredibly creepy, it's a good gimmick for stores that are always looking for ways to lure customers to their brick-and-mortar establishments. And it's a new chapter for marionettes, which have, it seems, found a new way to tell human stories.

Hat tip: James Hamblin

Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in Video

Just In