Can’t face reprimanding your perfect children? Need to keep your working relationship with your underperforming-and-needs-to-be-told colleague? Know the feeling that needs to be communicated, but you’d rather be doing something else? Introducing Virtual Mr V, the perfect way to say it without ruining your own mood!
In a wonderful chain of events, we took one of the work-in-progress artifacts of one of our Summer projects (affective robotics) – the bioloid 3D model rendered in amazing 3D in Unity 3D – and created an amazing “twiddle the knobs” Virtual Mr V (“we” in the “actually it was Jaakko” sense). If you can do it with Mr V, you can do it with Virtual Mr V (VmrV – one actuator at a time!). The hidden cool of this, is that showing off “an idea” with VmrV is quick and easy and doesn’t require you to position the “hulk” of the actual robot so that it doesn’t collapse while you’re delicately holding the limbs in the momentarily perfect pose. If you try communicating a subtle pose with the physical robot, you’ll immediately realize it’s just cumbersome (although entertaining for spectators).
Okay, so that’s the application? (You might ask.) Well, we didn’t have any plan to make “this application” so it just happened, but it saves so much ambiguity and faff that we’ll upgrade VmrV to have the amazing save pose and load pose features (no expense spared). This alone helps us “play with body language” and then share and compare, and quite frankly that’s good enough. It also opens the door to much more, but no promises yet.
For comparison, take a look at a comparatively easy to compose pose with a completely powered Mr V. It says to me “I’m taking over your world, deal with it”. Subtle but effective. We’re being paid for unambiguous and affective, but I still like it!
The less easily impressed might wonder why would we bother when there’s 3D robot software out there. There’s the RoboPlus software for interacting with Bioloid (in this case, interacting = programming, instructing and monitoring). There’s MS’s Robotics Developer Studio for those MS-owned developers, and there’s much more besides. But that’s kind of like saying, you have created some nice paper for printed books, but why do you want to paint on that same paper when we have these perfectly good cave walls? (I exaggerate, but not much.) We needed to create this “publish the mood and emotion” thing as a 3D avatar for our bigger project goals, and then we realized that “writing back” through this medium seems like a good idea, and it’s fun (not yet fun like ice cream and roller coasters at the same time, but it might get there some day). Anyone less easily impressed who remains skeptical at this point, may wish to review what new stuff has impressed them and then hit the comment button – now! (A minimum of one “impressed by X” for every “not impressed by Y”.)