ETC graduate student Tim Eck first envisioned the idea of creating technology to allow a guest to talk interactively (conversationally) with an animatronic character. His collaboration with field robotics project engineer Todd Camill led to the founding of the Interactive Animatronic Initiative (IAI). Once their vision was pitched to the Entertainment Technology Center, co-directors Don Marinelli and Randy Pausch took the chance on supporting the project and populating the team with a group of ETC students.

Thus the Interactive Animatronics Initiative began their work and "Doc" Beardsley was born. After seven weeks, the project's status was reviewed and granted another seven week ETC project cycle to continue development.