Squidsoup's Glowing Pathfinder Bugs are for all those worm-squishing, wing-pulling 8-year-old sadists. They're great because you can do pretty much anything to them, but you can't kill them. That's because they're fake.
The bugs are virtual projections that skitter about a real sandbox and respond to whatever's going on around them. Dig a trough in the sand, and they'll head in. Pick them up, and they'll crawl all over your hand. Mash them together, and they'll have hot bug sex. Check it:
Squidsoup, a digital arts group, designed the installation with the same sort of equipment used to track human gestures and movement. It was commissioned by Folly Gallery for the Portable Pixel Playground and showed most recently at the computer graphics conference Siggraph, which ended yesterday.
The idea is to train children in animal husbandry — how to look after, control, and breed insects. It's obviously a lot more fun than an ant farm. But can it actually teach kids to play nice with critters? Maybe, maybe not. When the bugs get freaked out, they pop and disappear, which we guess is a more humane way to go than getting fried under an 8-year-old boy's magnifying glass.