13.03.2017 15:42
Technophobia (from Greek τέχνη technē, "art, skill, craY" and φόβος phobos, "fear") is the fear or dislike of advanced technology or complex devices, especially computers.
Well count me in there! I’m still struggling with the microwave.
But you’ve just got to love this little guy...

Universal Robot’s robot arm is designed for automaeon in industrial applicaeons, from welding to palleezing to injeceon molding. It doesn’t have a cartoon face, a Briesh accent, or a ligle butler costume. It doesn’t have eyes, or a voice, or hands with which to geseculate. But you’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel a twinge of sadness, watching it shrink away as a group of kids approaches it.

This experiment, called Mimic, comes courtesy of Design I/O, which was tapped to build the installaeon as part of the Toronto Internaeonal Film Feseval. Based in Cambridge, Design I/O specializes in interaceve installaeons, from immersive environments at the New York Hall of Science to an interaceve app about the life of John Lennon. But for Mimic, the studio focuses on how personality and behavior could tell a story. "The project came out of this desire to take something mechanical and give it a personality that makes it feel alive," explains Design I/O's Theo Watson. Using the UR5 and a series of Kinects, Creaeve Applicaeons explains, the designers programmed the arm to interact with people nearby—but more importantly, they designed a precise model for its personality.

It's a mixture of metrics that include trust, interest, and curiosity, along with a taxonomy for body language that correspond to what the UR5 is feeling. "We realized that these three feelings could define so much in how the robot responds to visitors," Watson says, "and in some ways these are some of the most primary metrics we lean on in our daily interaceons, so much so that they aren't immediately obvious." When a person runs toward the arm for the first eme, it might shy away or cock its head in curiosity like a dog. But, Watson says, "because it doesn't know them it acts more caueous and reserved." But its trust increases the longer that person stays nearby, and the robot gets more curious and playful.

Make a sudden movement, and it might curl back to hide its head behind its arm joints in a mock game of peek-a- boo. It’s a form of design that’s closest in spirit to the Disney animators of the 1930s, who proposed principles for animaeng inanimate objects with what they called "the illusion" of life. Mimic comes from a similar place, where personality is expressed in movement and physicality rather than words. "We spend a lot of eme bringing characters and creatures to life with our immersive environments, and we started to think about what gives something personality," Watson says over email. "Is it the appearance or is it how it moves, how it reacts?" It’s also a glimpse at an emerging form of interaceon design, one where to create a form of interface.

Join the conversation! We'd love to hear your thoughts.

Please complete all fields below
Your name *
Email address *
Message *