February 16, 2006

Robot squirrel!

Inventors, it seems, are pursuing the goal of getting mentioned in the Althouse blog. (Via MakeZine.) Why else would there be a robot squirrel? Or, well, maybe it is a good idea:
Current mobile communication devices do not grab our attention in a socially appropriate way. They could be disrespectful of ongoing social activity such as an important meeting or private dinner. To improve on this, I have built the Cellular Squirrel, a system where the agent that controls my cellphone is embodied in a small portable animatronic device, as a personal 'companion' for the user. This embodiment is able to use the same subtle but still public non-verbal cues to get our attention and interrupt us like humans would do (like eye gaze and small gestures), instead of ringing or vibration. The user can whisper and listen to her squirrel, receiving and replying to voice instant messages. If the user wishes, she can also bypass the Intermediary altogether and get into a synchronous voice communication with the caller by simply talking to the embodiment.

"The embodiment" -- I love that!

Watch the film clip here. It really gives you the sense of why the robot squirrel is better than a ringing cell phone.

In the future, life will be different. Don't you think? We'll be taking adorable robots with us to dinner, and they'll sit there on the table and send out subtle cues when someone somewhere needs to talk with us.


esk said...

Are you sure the film clip link is right? It opens what looks like a bit file rather than a video and crashes my browser.

Maybe it's a Mozilla thing.

Ann Althouse said...

It works for me.

ben said...

I had trouble with mozilla as well, I think it probably has something to do with the settings that deal with opening outside programs.
It works ok in Internet Explorer, which of course shows that IE doesn't protect us as well.

Pete said...

It's almost the perfect Althouse post. Work in something about squirrel robots wearing unmanly shorts who want to move to a downtown condo to watch American Idol and Project Runway and you're just about there.

vbspurs said...

Robot Squirrel??



Gaius Arbo said...

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Soon our robot masters will be taking us to dinner!

Must buy that book.....

Gordon Freece said...

I'm trying to visualize the squirrel form-factor for a telephone receiver: Okay, the speaker is in its mouth. You hold that against your ear.

So... you're speaking into its crotch, right?

Eric Wilner said...

Just this Tuesday, I was thinking I needed a parrot phone (inspired by my cellphone and my parrot talking into the same ear at the same time).
A parrot (I see there's one under development) makes a lot more sense. Talking to a parrot that rides around on one's shoulder is normal. Talking to a squirrel is weird.

Baronger said...

Goodness, my cat would love one of those things. I can just see the chase scene after I get a call. It will give a whole new meaning to catching a call.