Our Double Robot here at Cemore recently went on a trip to the Connecting Practices event held in Lancaster connecting Dr Allison Hui to the event, as she was at the time stationed in Melbourne, Australia.

Below are the observations made by Dr Allison Hui whilst connecting to Lancaster through our Double Robot.


 

Infrastructure to support a shared setting and doing-places: Laptop with build-in camera and mic connected to mains power, earphones connected to the laptop, Australia household wifi, Firefox internet browser, Double robotics website, Lancaster University wifi, battery-powered iPad with build-in camera, mic and speaker, battery-powered mobile Double robot with floor-facing camera, robot charging dock connected to mains power. 

Robot-induced sensations for the controller: a slight sense of seasickness due to watching video marked by the continual stabilisation rocking of the robot, a sense almost akin to drunkenness when the low battery of iPad made video quality very poor and ‘seeing’ to navigate the robot around the room became more difficult 

Robot-induced sensations for other participants: a discomfort because robot-humans have little sense of appropriate personal space, uncertainty about decorum regarding helping the robot-human by picking the robot up or otherwise guiding it around the space. 

New interactional convention established: greeting each other via shaking one’s own hand whilst the other person does likewise. 

New interactional convention missing: how to subtly indicate to the chair an interest in commenting during discussion. 

Quality of interaction compared to skype participation: considerably better in many ways – ease of having side conversations with others, ability to re-position to see or hear, and ability to end an event by testing what the robot’s top speed was. 

Potential demand implications: though not without complications, the ease of using this technology (when the wifi etc. works) makes it easy to imagine how the wider availability of such robots might not only displace long-distance travel, but also add robot participants to practices that never would have demanded such travel. 

Fun quotient: Excellent. While of course the workshop was great, it was also surprisingly fun to be (and to interact with – from some accounts) a robot.