PAPILLON is a technology for 3D printing highly expressive animated eyes for interactive characters, robots and toys. Expressive eyes are essential in any form of face-to-face communication and designing them has been a critical challenge in robotics, as well as in interactive character and toy development. Crucially, the traditional animatroncis approach is not applicable to fictional characters from animated movies, comics and cartoons whose eye expressions are non-realistic, highly exaggerated and can take any size and shape to communicate a character’s emotions and intentions, e.g. “dollar signs” for greed or a “heart” for romance.
To allow the design of highly expressive eyes, the PAPILLON uses a our new printed optics technology where eyes are designed as a bundle of 3D printed optical fibers guiding images projected on the receiving end of the bundle to the surfaces of the character eye. The eyes are printed slice-by-slice using transparent photopolymers separated by a translucent support material. PAPILLION is based on a set of algorithms that implements classic Fibonacci spirals and Voronoi tessellation for efficient packing of fibers on a surface of an eye and in the bundle. This allows creating arbitrary curved display surfaces while minimizing visible artifacts, such as light distortions on the edges of the eye. The resulting technology is effective in designing compact, efficient displays of a small size and shape that can have a broad range of applications.