Wizkid robot unveiled at MoMA

On February 24, 2008, a new exhibit will open at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA), Design and the Elastic Mind. And until May 12, 2008, you'll be able to interact with Wizkid, which looks like a computer, but is really a robot. As said the European researchers behind this project, 'with its social skills and physical presence, Wizkid introduces the simplicity of everyday interactions in the world of computers.' You will not need to learn any language or type anything on a keyboard, Wizkid will understand you. Wizkid 'introduces the simplicity of everyday interactions in the world of computers.' But read more...

On February 24, 2008, a new exhibit will open at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA), Design and the Elastic Mind. And until May 12, 2008, you'll be able to interact with Wizkid, which looks like a computer, but is really a robot. As said the European researchers behind this project, 'with its social skills and physical presence, Wizkid introduces the simplicity of everyday interactions in the world of computers.' You will not need to learn any language or type anything on a keyboard, Wizkid will understand you. Wizkid 'introduces the simplicity of everyday interactions in the world of computers.' But read more...

Wizkid's Halo interface

You can see above the novel Wizkid's Halo interface. "Interacting with the machine, the user sees himself in a kind of augmented mirror. Around him, several widgets and other interface elements appear. He can just select them by waving his hand. This "interactive halo" follows the user everywhere so that Wizkid's tools are always 'at-hand.'" (Credit: Wizkid site on this page)

Wizkid acting as a media player

This other picture shows Wizkid discovering which CD you want to hear. "In the living room, Wizkid can act as a central interface to media players. Just show a CD to Wizkid and it will play it. If you organize a party, Wizkid will take pictures autonomously of your guests and create a visual summary of the event that can be sent to your guest afterwards." (Credit: Wizkid site on this page)

As states the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) news release, Wizkid "is the result of a collaboration between an engineer, Frédéric Kaplan (links to his EPFL site and to his personal website), and an industrial designer, Martino d'Esposito, who also teaches at ECAL (The University of Art and Design in Lausanne). "Their collaboration was supported by the new EPFL+ECAL Lab, a joint initiative of the two Lausanne-based institutions that aims to merge engineering, design and architecture in new and innovative ways."

After all these information, it's time to discover how Wizkid works. "Wizkid looks like a computer with a neck. But there the similarities with the familiar personal computer end. Wizkid isn't static. The screen on the mobile neck moves about like a head, and it's trained to hone in on human faces. Once it sees you, Wizkid focuses on you and follows your movement. Unlike a computer, which requires you to stop what you're doing and adapt your behavior and social interactions in order to use it, Wizkid blends into human space. There’s no mouse and no keyboard. You don't touch anything. There's no language getting in the way. On Wizkid’s screen you see yourself surrounded by a 'halo' of interactive elements that you can simply select by waving your hands. If you move away or to one side, Wizkid adapts itself to you, not the other way around. If you’re with a friend, Wizkid finds and tracks both of you and tries to figure out your relationship, expressing surprise, confusion or enjoyment when it gets your response."

The researchers involved in this project think they're exploring a new way to interact with computers. "Wizkid's inventors see their creation as playing a new and important role in the transitional world we currently inhabit. 'Wizkid gets us AFK -- away from keyboard -- and back into the physical world,' explains Kaplan. 'Unlike a personal computer, it doesn't force the human to accommodate, and it’s fundamentally social and multi-user.' Kaplan isn't suggesting that Wizkid will replace the language-driven interfaces of ordinary computers. But he does believe that there are many areas in which Wizkid's augmented reality could ease and enhance the human experience."

For more information, please visit the Wizkid website. Or go to the MoMA and tell me about your interactions with Wizkid.

Sources: Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, February 19, 2007; and various websites

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