Oh Robot Come and Dance with Me!

Today we live in the era of social robots. Perhaps the poster child for at home robots is none other than Robot Pepper. Developed by SoftBank Robotics, Pepper is programmed as a companion with EQ – emotional intelligence, the model kind of emotional behavior worthy of respect from EQ leader Daniel Goleman (See below).

At RotoLab, we have great interest in robotic emotional intelligence squared with spatial intelligence especially as it concerns designing objects and spaces for and with panoramic perspective.  Watch for instance Pepper’s movement in hugging Neil DeGrasse Tyson: You can see while sh/e excels at facial recognition, s/he has specified range of upper body motion. Let’s call it “Asset Hug.”  As a character with robotic agency moving in our 4-D world,  Pepper’s capacity for facial recognition is a game of social robotics, a program of object and pattern recogition which when adapted to programming robots that are “spatially aware” offers a new vision for design education and product development.

Case in point: This fall RotoLab’s Tech Vulcan Nels Long and I are running an applied studies course at SCI-Arc, in which architectural students learn to design in VR and choreographic movement sequences that become proxemic paths to explore when collaborating or “dancing” with robots.  Granted the robots programmed to dance with our students have neither Pepper’s empathic sensitivity not Pepper’s humanoid body.  Built as industrial robots, these machines, however, offer opportunities to design for upper body motion emphasizing expressive arm movement and are identified as ‘agent’s that have design input to the design practice.  Where Robot Pepper can speak to our heart, architectural dancing robots speak to our body or somatic imagination — a kind of imagination rooted in spatial experience. (Check out choreographic robots operating as cameramen capturing 360 movement of San Francisco Ballet principal dancers Maria Kochetkova and Joan Boada.)

Joining us in our enthusiasm for desiging with and for spatially smart robots is RotoLab Satellite team member Dr Ross Mead, CEO of Semio, a start up focusing on coding for human – machine interactions aka “social robotics.”   We look forward to introducing Dr Mead’s work to the RotoLab community in our upcoming InventioBrains! Chat: HEAL.

In the meantime, let us all take a deep breath as we step forward into the future, forgetting not our long journey of dreaming robots – from 15th century mechnical toys to Extant‘s Ethan feigning old fashioned robotic movement.  As little Ethan points out, “This is the dance of my ancestors.”

Hey send us a photo of your favorite Robot and we’ll post it on Facebook.!


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