A Nice Gesture by Jeroen Arendsen

Various personal interests and public info, gesture, signs, language, social robotics, healthcare, innovation, music, publications, etc.

Month: December 2008

Robopanda walkthrough

A walk thru of the recently announced Robopanda robot from WowWee at the CES 2008. Quite a talkative little panda robot he is. “Scratch my tummy if you want me to tell you a story, touch my hand if you want to teach me a new trick”. Sounds a bit like “press 1 for this, press 2 for that”.

Emotional Response to Robot Child

Endearing or scary?

This video generated a lot of interesting response on YouTube. Most people find it quite disturbing. It reminded me of my little kid who can also be scared by toy robots. Could it be the case that, as we grow older, we are not so easily scared because we can analyse the toy robots. And if we then encounter one that we cannot analyse we freak out? Hmmm, it seems to be a much more direct emotional response. What is it about these robots that approach human-like features.

The Uncanny Valley
Mori’s Uncanny Valley.

It seems to be a clear cut example of what Mori described: The uncanny valley is a hypothesis that when robots and other facsimiles of humans look and act almost like actual humans, it causes a response of revulsion among human observers. The “valley” in question is a dip in a proposed graph of the positivity of human reaction as a function of a robot’s lifelikeness (source wikipedia).

Bear in mind that the uncanny valley has not been ‘proven’ scientifically, but since it is philosophically impossible to prove a scientific hypothesis, it is more important that it has not been disproven, yet. Bartneck wrote two papers about it, see the refs in wikipedia.

Tokyo Toy Show 2008

Impression of the Tokyo Toy Show

Couple of highlights:
Stuff from Takara Tomy: Eve and Wall-E robots, i-Sobot customizations
Light Sabre fencing from Bandai.

Sega’s love robot E.M.A. at the Tokyo Toy Show 2008?
Looks exactly like WowWee’s Femisapien to me… Give us a kiss then, little one 🙂

In Memoriam: Piet Westendorp

Tragic news reached me today through the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering. Piet Westendorp has passed away, much too soon, on november 19.

He was a great scholar, writer, and allround human being, who gave me and many other students a lot of support. He shared his great experience as willingly as his many views on a world of topics. As an example, he made a wonderful analysis of the painting Victory Boogie Woogie, together with Willem van den Hoed. He also wrote Open here: the art of instructional design with Paul Mijksenaar, which brought him world fame. A more recent book was Interface Design & Document Design.

We shared an interest in illustrations of pointing gestures and of the movement in gestures. He specifically collected illustrations of gestures to study the arrows used in instructional images. It was one of those many things that Piet was very enthusiastic about. He loved the arrows in the Gebarenwoordenboek voor kinderen.

Pictures of SLN signs that had ´lovely arrows´, according to Piet. (source)

Piet worked at the TU Delft and the TU Eindhoven, but I like to think he worked as an independent ´free thinker´. He seemed to effortlessly combine a very pragmatic attitute towards the world of research with a passion for ideas. As a senior figure at our department he always reached out to newcomers. Through his example he inspired people to keep an open mind, and stay young. To my memory, at least, Piet will always be a generous, brilliant, and somewhat rebellious boy. Provocative and curious. He will be sorely missed.

His page at the TU/e
In memoriam at STIC (Studiekring Technische Informatie en Communicatie)
Tributes at InfoD-Cafe
Obituary at TU Delft (here)

Update 8 dec ’08: His partner sent a picture of Piet.


Piet Westendorp at the Delta Hotel

Piet Westendorp at the Delta Hotel

In the background you can see the lights of the harbour and the industry at Vlaardingen. We had dinner there with a group of colleagues, at the Delta Hotel, which is a beautiful place in an interesting setting. It was in memory of Piet, who came there regularly. His analysis of Victory Boogie Woogie still managed too trigger a heated discussion…

Update 22 december: Elif sent me this link to a video where Piet talks about his specialty, the design of visual information.

SF: Philips RobotSkin Shaving Lady

Here is how I wake up every morning…
in my dreams, right before I actually wake up

Shaving as an affectionate gesture
and a symbol of dedication

Read more a RobotSkin (just the graphics are already worth a visit)

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