Equipment: Soldering iron, hot glue gun, patience

Supplies: Build a Bear Penguin, Arduino, Arduino Wave Shield, conductive thread and fabric, fabric switch, custom pull cord sensor, vibrating motors

Challenge / Purpose: To create an interactive wedding invitation for my Computer Science MSc and PhD advisor

Process: Pengy was a two month long project, from conception until it was ready to be delivered to the recipient. About 5 years prior, I had worked with my husband Fraser and one of our high school interns on a project that repurposed a Build-a-Bear monkey into an interactive toy for children to teach and reinforce positive behavioral interactions. As my advisor was going to be invited to our wedding, Fraser and I wanted to reuse and reimagine this original project for our wedding.

A very long story short, Pengy is an interactive plush toy that responds to touch and pull input via sound, virbation and light. Using a fabric switch embedded in his foot, he will begin to talk via an Arduino and Ardunio Wave Shield and his cheeks will light up in excitement via LED lights embedded in his cheeks. When his pull string is pulled, he will say a short, happy phrase. When the conductive thread patches that are sewn on his hands (and the associated wires running through his body), touch together whenever he hugs himself, he will say “Yee Haw”. If you remove his hat (i.e., the circuit from his left ear, through his hat, to his right ear), he will get angry, turning his cheeks red and vibrating his bum (via vibrating motors embedded within plastic discs in his bum). Although the Build-A-Bear form was really great to work with, this project challenged my prototyping skills and increased by understanding of how difficult it is to repurpose existing items and integrate interactive technologies within them (the Haunted UI project I did took this one step further!).

A video of Pengy in action can be found on Youtube ( or seen below.

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