Photo: Design I/O 2011

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Xbox Kinect
Not all video game devices equal brain burnout. The Kinect for Xbox 360 was built with easily modified technology, so anyone willing to tinker can make it do any number of things. Designers Theo Watson and Emily Gobeille created digital shadow puppets—life-size birds that appear to move, squawk, and breathe fire. (The Kinect tracks movements and transfers them onto the puppet; when a user opens her fingers, for example, the bird opens its beak.) Next: dinosaur puppets.