Briefly describe for me the realm of robots.
What kind of robots are being designed?
make some distinctions among robots, but none of them are mutually
exclusive. A robot could, and often does fall into two or more
of categories. For example, there are social robots, service
robots, and field robots. Many of these distinctions actually
relate to the research question at hand more so than to a kind
of consumer product. This of course reflects the fact that outside
of a few domains and a few choice examples, robots still are
primarily research endeavors.
The most common domains for contemporary robotic
products are military or industrial settings. Robots are also
beginning to be used in
medicine and scientific exploration. And of course toys. Robots
for the home consumer, such as the Roomba, are still uncommon.
For example, there are a handful of vaccuum and lawn-mowing
robots, but other than that, except for toys, there aren't really
as we commonly think of them, in the home.
One of the challenging aspects of robotics is that the distinctions
between kinds of robots are made along many different dimensions,
so it is difficult to create coherent groupings of robots that
are useful to design. As we move forward in the design of robots
one of the pressing challenged will be to develop categories
of kinds of robots that reflect their status as "products."
What type of design work is being done
with robots now?
All kinds. This is what makes robotics so exciting.
The challenges and opportunities of robotics sweep across every
field of design. Perhaps the most obvious is the work in industrial
design in creating the visual form of the robot. The industrial
design of a robot is an example of styling visual form with significant
impact on interaction. In fact, its difficult to separate industrial
design from interaction design in robots. Because of the newness
of robotics and the public's unfamiliarity with robots, the visual
form of the robot often takes a precedence in shaping our expectations
of the robot and how we interact with the product.
In addition to designing the visual form of the robot there is
a lot of interface design involved with robots: interfaces for
tele-operation as well as interfaces for direct interaction.
These interfaces might be screen based, physical, voice, or
of the three. Because we have yet to arrive at any standards
for, or even common experiences of, interacting with a robot
what a robot is) interface, and more broadly, interaction design
for robotics is open to broad inquiry and invention.
How is designing for robots different than other
Robots are hyperboles of the products contemporary
designers are challenged with. That is, they are an exaggeration
of the contemporary products because robots are "everything
all at once": complex embodied technological artifacts that
require significant design knowledge of industrial, communication,
interaction, and service design, potent cultural icons, and too,
the most mundane of gadgets.
So designing robots is different from designing other products
because all of the diverse elements of a product are brought
together and amplified in a robot. This presents a nearly unique
and opportunity. Designing robots requires a level of synthesis
not often encountered in other products. Of course, this will
changes as both the technologies and their applications become
and consequently methods and techniques for designing robots
Robots are also different from many other products because there
is this paradox of few real examples of prior or existing robots
to inform design, but there is a rich and complex set of popular
and scientific imaginaries that set expectation for what a
robot is or should be. This dually requires of a designer skills
radical creativity and a heightened awareness of sensitivity
histories and mores.