An Interactive Device-Free Tracking Halloween Robot Using Xandem Locus Technology

At Xandem, we research and develop cutting edge sensing technologies for device-free detection and location. That means we can locate people even when they aren't wearing an RFID tag or GPS. We usually talk about our technologies being used for security, rescue, swat teams, military, retail analytics, and other "serious" applications, but they can also be used just for fun.

This Halloween, Joey Wilson used Xandem's tracking technology to build "Chancellor Darkskull" - an interactive skeleton robot for his neighborhood. The robot detects visitors when they enter his graveyard, yells at them when they do, and then follows them around with his piercing red eyes. Since The Chancellor knows the exact location of the visitor, he says funny phrases based on where they go. When no one is present, he puts his head down, turns off his eyes, hides his face, and prepares to startle the next unsuspecting victim. Check out the video:

Darkness, blinking lights, artificial fog, opaque prop obstructions, and moving spectators create many challenges for tracking the location of trick-or-treaters in Chancellor Darkskull's graveyard. Camera tracking systems, even infrared and thermal, would have a difficult time covering the entire space without an inflexible installation and careful calibration. It may require multiple cameras, and stitching multiple video streams together is very costly.

Xandem's tracking technology provides a powerful solution to these challenges. Since radio waves are used for the sensing, darkness and fog don't affect the tracking. The opaque obstructions are easy penetrated by the radio waves, and the sensors can be completely hidden by embedding them within the props. The radio waves are not fooled by blinking lights and motion outside the designated tracking area.

Chancellor Darkskull is also a demonstration of how Xandem's technologies can be integrated into motor mechanisms. The same kind of device can be used to point cameras, lights, or other devices in the direction of a person. Integrating location awareness opens up a whole world of possibilities for enhancing other technologies.