Skip to content ↓
MIT staff blogger Chris Peterson SM '13

Meet TOFU by Chris Peterson SM '13

Warning: post may contain dangerously high amounts of "daaaaaaaawwwwww"

First of all, apologies for the radio silence. I’ve been sequestered in reading and committee for the last few weeks. Today may be a Sunday, but it is no different. But before I once again immerse myself in the awesomeness that is all of you, I wanted to share this different awesome thing.

This thing is TOFU.

TOFU is the baby of Ryan Wistort, a grad student over at the MIT Media Lab in the Personal Robots research group. I often characterize the Media Lab as being “the place where everything cool that has been invented over the last 20 years has been invented.”

(Reminder to self: blog entry about the ML at some point this summer)

Anyway, here is how Ryan describes TOFU:

TOFU is a project to explore new ways of robotic social expression by leveraging techniques that have been used in 2d animation for decades. Disney Animation Studios pioneered animation tools such as “squash and stretch” and “secondary motion” in the 30’s. Such techniques have since been used widely by animators, but are not commonly used to design robots. TOFU, who is named after the squashing and stretching food product, can also squash and stretch. Clever use of compliant materials and elastic coupling, provide an actuation method that is vibrant yet robust. Instead of using eyes actuated by motors, TOFU uses inexpensive OLED displays, which offer highly dynamic and lifelike motion.

That all sounds very fancy and highminded but the important thing is that TOFU is freakin adorable


Remember, all based off Pixar dynamics. So it’s art, imitating art, imitating life – and it makes me make this face:

Yes please!

33 responses to “Meet TOFU”

  1. Duh! says:

    Thought that this post would be about updates on Admission process..

  2. Observer says:


    Why don’t you say something about the decisions?
    When will they come up? Pi day again?

    P.S. Media lab is TERRIFIC!

  3. right! say something about decisions:




    that we will make and release decisions at some point this calendar year


    some people will be accepted, some will not.

    for members of both groups, the sun will continue to rise, and life will carry on. some of them will like to eat bacon with their breakfasts; others will not.

    one day, one of them will skin a knee while playing basketball in her driveway. “ouch” she will say, and then continue to play. whether or not she was admitted will not affect this.


  6. Dimitris says:

    thumbs up for Chris!
    Your comments are so relieving!. :-p
    you took away all of my anxiety now. :-p

  7. This is really awesome. And the second video is just epic.
    By the way, the link to “Personal Robots research group” is broken. :(

    and @ Chris: Thank goodness! That’s a huge load off my shoulders! Hehe

  8. Observer says:

    Oh Really??

    I thought they’re gonna be released at some point in next couple of years!


  9. Anonymous says:

    Come on guys. Now is the time to fall over these awesome posts. Because you never know where will you end up. Aww, I think I’m in love with TOFU. Oh, help someone. wink +5 for the first video.

    P.S. When will the decisions come out, btw? raspberry
    Haha wink


    that we will make and release decisions at some point this calendar year”

    Well done sir, I LOL’ed. Love it.

    Guys, I’m an applicant much like you all, and am just as anxious to know when decisions will be released, but if you would look for a pattern, you’d notice that a) The admissions officers will tell us when the decisions come out literally as soon as THEY know (at this point they likely have no idea) and b) It will likely be a post by Matt, and c) That post will be sometime during the first week of March not now, and d) TOFU is damn cute, and e) aw hell, I’m running out of alphabet here.

  11. actually there will be no decisions this year. we are giving up the remaining spots as sports scholarships so that we can win all the college sports.
    all your trophies are belong to us.

    a “totally legit” admissions dude.

  12. No says:

    Oh, man, that robot got swag.

  13. Nikita says:

    Awww..Ryan Wistort, I love your baby!! TOFU is a darling!

    Yup..thumbs up for the entry, Chris! It does a great job at taking my mind off all things irksome (decisions(!!) and examinations).

    Having read an article about Singularity just this morning, looking at a cute robot with adorable expressions is messing with my mind! I don’t know whether to be optimistic about the future and hope that it will be filled with nice and friendly, super-smart intellingences, or hide under my bed (yea, that’s going to work!) and protect myself from those with sinister motives hidden behind lovely button-eyes.

  14. Anon says:

    Dear duh!,
    Don’t think Admission is the only thing you need to worry about in the world. An update in the process would not do you much good, because let’s face it, you either got in or you didn’t. So just wait til pi day like a good little kid.

  15. Emily says:

    What a little darling!

  16. Shahriar says:

    The ways that TOFU moves is extremely close to natural, and the way it moves its eyes is just like in animated films , which makes it seem alive !!

    That’s so cool, and it’s just so cute !

  17. Bhaskar says:

    The decisions will be released between 12th and 17th march.Just relax.The best advice I can give is to do what we wrote in ”What you love to do for fun” essay.Even I got this from someone..haha.Chillaaxxxxx

  18. She says:

    XD Chris!
    It’s a little late for that, I skinned my knee playing basketball yesterday!


  19. Duh! says:

    @ Chris…

    Fine.. We dont want any *Intel* on how many are selected and when is the date coming out…

    How about you just share with us your experience on reading our Application… Please just end it by saying ” application reading is fun.. All the applicants have a good potential”

    Give us somthing Juicy Like a essay that attracted you.. Things like that… I know you must be busy reading applications.. so Just do it once in a week.. not like a long silence and nothing on the admission process…

    It was actually like.. we were Waiting for Christmas so that Santa could bring us gifts and later he shows up with nothin….

  20. A Dude says:

    ^ Grow up. Like Chris has nothing better to do than attend to every applicant’s whims. Plus, we all already know from his various blog posts that he loves to read the apps and enjoys applicants’ stories a great deal. So what you just suggested is pointless and redundant, among other adjectives I won’t list here.

  21. Duh! says:

    @ Anon

    Thanks for your Unexpected Loads of love…

    One can’t take admission so easily as you say if the admission results are actually gonna change the world He is gonna live in…

    As you can See…

    Delta World = Delta Admission

    *Integrating on both sides*

    World = Admission

    so it does worry me when there is a Hole in the Ozone layer above my world..

    PS: Just had to do a little maths cos you may understand better if you are a Nerd..

  22. Duh! says:

    @ A dude…

    The line was supposed to be “Please just *Dont* end it by saying ” application reading is fun.. All the applicants have a good potential”

    My Mistake :/

  23. FarhanN5 says:

    Tofu….too cute for words

  24. Vivek says:

    Aargh. I need a PC. Naow. To look at those videos! I can’t stand having to read all the cuddly, ‘aww’filled comments and not being able to see for myself. Curse you non-availability-of-Flash-Lite-within-Opera-Mobile…

    On another note, I’d agree with Chris with regards to what he has to say about the Media Lab. It’s got a dubious(?) distinction for being a font of inventions. All I hope is that the momentum is never lost. Can’t really expect people to sit around twiddling their thumbs in the ML, can we? wink

    Also, Chris, ‘lulz’ for your incredible insights about the admission process at this point.


  26. Hamsika '13 says:

    I second what Elizabeth said.

    omg. so much cuteness. i can’t handle it.

  27. Prasidda says:

    Ryan Wistort has not only managed to give life to TOFU, he has been equally successful in imparting Soul to it!
    Cheers to Ryan,
    Cheers to TOFU,
    Cheers to Chris,
    Cheers to MIT! smile

  28. Vivek says:

    ” Warning: post may contain dangerously high amounts of “daaaaaaaawwwwww” ” – More ‘lulz’

  29. Vivek says:

    I just got on my PC. Saw the videos. The “daaaaaaaawwwwww” is a 100% justified. Especially the end of the last one. I felt so lonely.

    Two robots made me feel emotionally insecure. Guess that says a lot about me…raspberry

  30. Phoebe says:

    that. is. adorable.

    mr. peterson, you’re awesome.

  31. HeyJoe says:


  32. orangeCookie says:

    i really Miss Ben Jones.. he is awesome when it comes to Blogs on MIT.. he rules m/

    For those who are wondering who Ben Jones is…

    He was the Dir.communications

    Check this out..

  33. Alex S says:

    Oh my goodness Tofu is adorable! And as for the skinned knee, I have skinned both even before the decisions have been posted! Can’t wait for the future…