Having used bipedal, research and industrial robots, we realised that a big part of the barrier to entry to consumer and mass market healthcare was due to the cost and reliability of many actuators (motors, degrees of freedom etc.) and high quality actuators in those bots. So some time ago, over a coffee far far away, we got the idea that if only we could get extremely expressive and functional robots without so many actuators, we might be onto something. Naturally there’s an obvious area where this has been done before and continues to be done: in toys. But here we were interested in some high level design concepts where the primary goal is expression rather than play.
So we worked with students to create DASR: Deep Avatars Simple Robots. What you seen in the video are the portion of the many sketchbook concepts that were built in the Unity3D engine. With simple actuations, movement to music and kinect input, this was a pretty damn versatile proof of concept. This is mostly for inspiration and fun. We’re not planning to build these in plastic and metal (or blood and chrome), not yet anyway!
And for completeness, here’s the brief that kicked that project off…
An interesting emotion capture approach. And soon to be off-the-shelf too.
Something we’ve been playing with in the background – a simple two wheel (gyro-stablised reverse pendulum arduino powered) platform for moving robot apps about. It’s not finished but the video is a great way to see how modifying the values of a PID control loop affects stability of such a device.
Want to see the amazing idea that this originated from? Checkout the Extreme Fingers brief on slideshare:
Dubious: UK public believes robots … shouldn’t care for young or elderly
A survey performed to test views of the general public about robots has an interesting “finding” about robots: don’t use them to care for children or the elderly – they are made for killing people so let them get on with it! Okay, that’s slightly exaggerated but probably less far from the study report than the study report is from finding a proper answer to any research questions on this subject. It’s fun to talk about robots as machines that will take over the world – not a new phenomenon. But there’s an interesting nugget hidden in the findings, or at least a hypothesis revealed worthy of testing…
A general view is that robotic applications (or any non-mainstream tech or innovation) should be for “the other” and not for my social group. They should perform their military tasks upon “the other” but not perform tasks upon my “in group”.
I’m not claiming that this hypothesis is exactly right, but there’s clearly group psychology at play in people’s responses about these “unknown entities” (not so much unknown, as misunderstood due to most “education” coming from fiction, especially science-fiction).
And to state the obvious (in case you think I missed it), the survey does highlight two already obvious and very useful insights: do not attempt to market robotics to the mass market for human caring applications <as there are no generally known and liked special applications in niche segments that have could the mass imagination yet>, and if you are going to market such a product to such a market be prepared to educate around “robots serve skynet, not mankind” early attitudes, or else select your target group to avoid that wasted effort and get references/testimonials that make it unnecessary to educate subsequent niches.
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