Two Articles: Wearable Computers and Robots

Two articles crossed my radar screen today that I thought were interesting. The first essentially killed an article on (the perceived necessity of) smart watches that I was drafting (lesson learned: write faster) and the second, on human-robotic interaction, is spurring me to organize some thoughts about robots (beyond the Roomba) that have been swirling around for a bit. So, in case you are looking for a couple tl;dr summaries to read before calling it a day, here you go.

Intel’s Anthropologist Genevieve Bell Questions the Smart Watch” (from MIT Technology Review)

I feel as though there has been a lot of talk about smart watches lately (e,g., Russell M. Davies’ “Smart watches will work – but not in the way we expect“). Genevieve Bell, in an interview with Tom Simonite, puts the idea of a smart watch in the larger context of wearable computers and makes two excellent points that have been absent from much of the conversation:

  1. “Smartphones only got interesting when people stopped thinking of them as phones.”
  2. “It will become much more interesting when we let go of [existing preconceptions of computers] and work out the promise that wearable computing will make to us.”

How Robots Can Trick You Into Loving Them” (from The New York Times Magazine)

Maggie Koerth-Baker, a regular contributor over at Boing Boing, takes a nice look at human-robot interaction, noting that “Provided with the right behavioral cues, humans will form relationships with just about anything — regardless of what it looks like.” As evidenced in “I, Vacuum Cleaner,” I am pretty interested in the role robotics will play in our lives. Koerth-Baker’s piece was a reminder that I need to pull some thoughts together on robots (and even software) that are designed to have deeper interactions with people (the upcoming film “Her” seems like it will be an interesting take on the software side).


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