Robots and that

This post is more just for me to note down some of my favourite robots of recent times than anything else. Some of you probably know them all – so pardon the self-indulgence.

As I mentioned earlier, I think robots are especially of relevance as we move into an era of increasing physical-digital connectivity (think internet of things, urban computing). Chris Heathcote mentioned some great examples, some of which (Nabaztag, for example) use robotic emotions and/or function as utilities and are also favourites of mine, during his talk on urban computing at Planningness in New York. If you haven’t looked at that yet, you should.

In no particular order:

1. Tweenbots: A project by Kacie Kinzer at NYU’s ITP last year, it sought to look at the question of how we as humans interact with the space and objects around us, especially if that object displays human qualities.

2. Voicebox: A robot-led data visualization project by the UK’s youth volunteering service vInspired, which curated the thoughts of young people on issues of the day, visualised it and then set the data free.

3. Availabot: An instant messaging buddy which flops over when your friends are offline, and stands up when they come online, built by BERG.

KinectBot is still premature, but it has the potential to be extremely interesting and useful: it was a weekend-hacking project by Philipp Robel of the MIT’s Robotics Lab and can respond to human gestures. I like that it was built by hacking the Xbox Kinect camera.

Bonus: A fun video of Robbie the robot, who’s trying to ‘make a life on the streets’ (HT Wired UK) – you can’t not smile!

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