Inspired by a famous theatre form of Indian Puppetry, Kathputli aims to bring back or rather sustain the forgotten art.

Created using Arduino microprocessor + library based on C/C++ for Physical Computing class at SVA IxD.

Kathputli displayed at SVA, MFA Interaction Design


I've always been fascinated by puppetry, mainly because it's an art used in different parts of the world, each depicting their own cultures and stories and forms. As a kid, I'd seen a few traditional Indian puppet shows. Even then it had little exposure as one would find them happening in small towns or villages, performed by local artists. Puppetry is an interesting medium for story-telling, especially for children, which is forgotten or rather lost now. I created Kathputli to keep the art alive with the help of arduino.

Kathputli can be used as a wall art installation or store front display. The puppets are staged with a pair of drums and a spotlight. Spotlight turns on as a user is close to the installation, allowing user to go ahead and interact with the puppets. Each puppet is controlled by a drum and user has to play drums to make puppets dance.


I started sketching puppets and understanding various mechanisms to move them. After various explorations, I ended up using a crank to convert circular motion of the motor into reciprocating motion (back-and-forth-linear-motion). I illustrated the puppets, UV printed them on a 1/32" Basswood, and then cut them using a Laser Cutter. After which, I assembled them using brass paper fasteners and mounted them on a foam board. I used aluminium wire as strings to connect them to Servo Motors (180 degree rotation).

Once the puppets were assembled, I created two drum boards using Knock Sensor and LEDs. I used IR Proximity Sensor to determine when a user is close to the installation such that the spotlight turns on.

 Test Prototype