16 November 2018
As we continue transitioning into the 4th Industrial Revolution, things are looking up. While, arguably, new technology has played to the stereotype of separating us from one another, it seems there is an optimism bubbling around our future home scenarios. Creatives are curating more humanised integrations of interfaces designed to reflect our natural behaviours. The Future Laboratory recently wrote, ‘While these products are in the foreground today, they will become so integrated within the household surroundings that they won’t feel like tech anymore.’
This idea may be scary for some, especially with the likes of Black Mirror creating a creepily relatable dystopian future. Luckily it looks like it may be a little time yet until we are face to face with our robotic butler (who is secretly trying to take over the world).
In 2018 we are beginning to see more clearly what domestic robotics will entail and how they aid our relationships with one another not block them.
Let’s start with our beloved AI Assistants…
Disney, in partnership with Google, are launching their interactive storytelling feature for the Google Home devices, ‘Little Golden Books’. Parents can read to their children and the Google Home voice recognition will compliment the story by adding relevant sound effects and music to bring the story to life. Think twinkling chimes for fluttering Tinkerbell in Peter Pan or the pitter patter of the White Rabbit who is late for a very important date!
It is an enticing multi-sensory experience with just the right amount of integration (hopefully) to accompany the parent and child, without becoming disruptive or too spoon fed - which is really refreshing as so much of what you see today is already very prescribed. The imagination has more room when things are not over designed, but still stimulates thought. The concept is reminiscent of Thorn Arnadottir’s fantastic Shapes of Sound series where a ball of white fluff beats when petted and an aluminium cylinder ‘vrooms’ when you roll it. While seemingly minimal by form, they are designed to intrigue beyond its surface.
>This Google Home addition is an exciting revamp of read along tapes, recapturing the curiosity of children and encouraging time to be spent together, allowing questions to be asked and discussion to be had as Google Home responds to any breaks in the story. As our homes become more connected, smart lighting could be introduced to complete the immersive experience.
Rather than doing your dishes...
many domestic robots that are approaching the market have the focus of companionship. Sony released Aibo, their 90s robotic dog throw back but with futurist technology, as the machine learns the personalities of its owners and in turn develop their own.
Another favourite is Kuri, by Mayfield Robotics. While production has been ceased, Kuri’s design is still clever. What is interesting about Kuri is that it does not use words to communicate; instead, it uses sounds, lights and its endearing eyes to respond to users. Kuri’s movements were designed with the help of a longtime Pixar animator. By purposely creating limitations for the robot it means expectations can be curbed - which ultimately is the downfall of most technology. As we expect things to work instantly we are quick to get rid if it does not meet our demands.
You may be more forgiving if adorable Kuri made a mistake when mishearing your song choice in comparison to Siri or Alexa?
These designs add warmth to the home, which opposes tech’s original cold and unemotional aesthetics. Through designing slower, meaningful and playful engagements between the user and object could enrich our experiences with objects in everyday life. We look forward to seeing what more thoughtful tech is to come.