Touchbugs is an open source hardware and software framework for a novel actuated tangible technology. Touchbugs are small tangibles that use directed bristles and vibration motors for actuation (giving them the ability to move independently). Their infrared LEDs allow multiple Touchbugs to both be spatially tracked (position and orientation) on optical multi-touch tables and to communicate information about their internal state to the table. Embedded inertial sensors, which capture displacement and orientation, provide rich opportunities for interaction design including direct physical manipulation, and symbolic and metaphorical gestures. This novel combination of sensing and actuation capabilities goes beyond simple changes of (virtual) states (e.g. by the use of buttons) offering significantly more potential of expressive interaction. The embedded sensors also stabilize the tangibles movement in an autonomous feedback loop.
See the video on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRBwF86AakM
Read the paper from CHI 2013 here: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2470761&