Week 5

Timothy Harper - Fri 3 April 2020, 5:31 pm

Report back

How was zoom?

Zoom has been ok. I've had internet and computer problems. On Wednesday, it worked smoothly. However Thursday was a nightmare and we tried Discord but it wasn't much better. We settled with just having our voice streaming through Zoom. We're using Facebook messenger to chat, but it is hard to discuss big ideas and try and get your ideas across when typing as opposed to talking. I've also had some pretty sucky computer issues (my laptop battery doesn't hold a charge) however we can make do for the moment.

What did we pitch?

Last week we pitched the Maze robot. A sassy robot which helps you through a maze, and can be untrustworthy, depending on whether you trust it or not. The problem space was looking at whether technology can be trusted.

What have we done as a team?

We have been idea generators - from the feedback, it has been difficult to scope down the main ideas and where we want to go moving forward.

Achievements made moving forward

Need to figure out which idea we want to go with. The main report is also due in under a weeks time.


If we build it ourselves are we all supposed to build different parts of it? How to determine whether we want to work on it individually or as a team?

Anshuman came up with a 'doggo idea' whereby users place 'to-do' cards on the robot and it alerts (barks) them to finish the tasks. If the users haven't completed the task, they could tap the dog to get it to stop barking. Over time, as users would be getting lazy, and the dog is at foot level, users might mistreat the dog. The dog would then bit the user, take further action, etc.

This space could uncover how users would react differently to how they treat a robot dog to just a robot - would they feel some human value attached to it and treat it with kindness? Typically dogs are friendly and happy. Giving tech its own feelings can make how we respect it change.

Ben looked for a more specific reason to betray the robot as a means of progressing yourself further.

- getting lazy

- game (you wanna work with the companion)

- games have a defined structure (good set of rules)

- everyday activity where there is a reason to betray technology?


The Arduino kits have arrived! Very grateful to have received my kit, and really looking forward to making something awesome.

I've already had a look through the included book and it has some fun projects.

Finalised team idea

As the team, we 'boiled down' our ideas and went through this process a few times. We looked at what a maze is. A maze is a single solution problem, there is one clear way through it. A user has a sensation of feeling lost whilst being in a maze, and would rely entirely on the robot to help them through. You have to trust something you have no trust for. There is also a sense of not knowing the finish. It could be around the corner or many turns away.

We explored what it means to be lost. Steven (our Tutor) suggested looking at a car driver. When you are driving, you can be lost, and completely dependent on your GPS. Having a sassy robot assistant (like an enraged Italian taxi driver) could make it work.

We also thought of a personal assistant interaction. Having a robot which could control the amount of technology you are using. As a team we could explore the different ways it can look. Perhaps the assistant is like a small dog. It could yap and scream at you if you're watching too much television and turn it off. If you wanted to stop listening to the dog, you could 'zip' its mouth shut or power it down by removing its 'brain'. Obviously these aren't real things but a replica of sorts, to aid in an everyday interaction whilst keeping it physical.

As a team, we liked this idea the most. There is a fair bit of research out there on using technology too much, and the negative affects on the body. From biting into sleep time (which negatively impacts mental health) to using up productivity time, and putting pressures on yourself to get work done sooner, it can be hard to regulate screen times.

We are looking to explore different designs of what the assistant should look like. Perhaps a dog, or a human, or a ball. The assistant could also be given different personalities, such as angry or passive aggressive, kind and supportive or impatient and snappy.

As the current COVID-19 climate makes team collaboration hard especially on a physical project, applying these different personalities to the same overall concept could work.

Through this process, it was important to come up with core concepts that the robot would keep to. These are that it is sassy, it is in control, it offers a service and is needed, and there are consequences for disobeying it.