All posts filed under “Robot

Ikea Robotics

ikea robotics

Ikea Robotics was created by Adam Lassy, a graduate from ITP New York. As explained on his site…

“A conceptual study of dynamic and responsive environments, using Ikea as the structural platform. I have modified an Ikea Lack table and an Urban chair to create mobile, wireless robots that can dynamically reconfigure interior space in response to people”.

What if furniture could move around, catering for your every need? What if furniture displayed animal characteristics, perhaps moving away from you as you approach, or getting bored and wandering away?

Video embedded here:

Watch more videos here. Reminds me also of Greyworlds concept for Bins & Benches.

ikea robotics



A really sweet little project by ITP student Kacie Kinzer called Tweenbots.

“Tweenbots are human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal”.

Watch video

The cardboard design, small size and smiley face aid in the perception of a fragile object that needs help. More bots on the way soon.


Topobo available to buy


One of my favorite projects, Topobo (2004), is now available to buy. Unfortunately its priced at $499 for a 100 piece kit, but it is aimed at schools afterall and I know they are expensive to produce. I played with it 2005 and am very happy that its made it into (limited) production.

“Topobo is the world’s first construction toy with kinetic memory, the ability to record and playback physical motion. Snap together Passive (static) and Active (motorized) pieces into a creation, and with a press of a button and a flick of your wrist, you can teach your creation how to dance or walk. The same way you can learn how buildings stand by stacking up blocks, you can discover how animals walk by playing with Topobo.”

Watch original video / more videos.

Invented by by Hayes Raffle and Amanda Parkes at the MIT Media Lab, its sort of a cross between the construction freedom of lego and the movements/learning of Soda Play, in a way.

There are many depths to the interaction and I’d highly recommend reading some of the research papers.


Absolut Machines


4 years ago I saw a great 3d animation called Pipe Dream, part of a DVD of animations called Animusic. Music played by robots, in particular Pipe Dreams was played by very co-ordinated bouncing balls. I recommend you watch it here. The creators never claimed this to be real, but some prankster did.

Well now those dreams are a reality…

“In early 2008 ABSOLUT (Vodka brand) is launching a project that explores what happens when cutting-edge technology meets the creativity of art, music and design. To emphasize its deep commitment to the subject, ABSOLUT turned to some of the greatest technology visionary teams of our time, and asked them to create THE ABSOLUT MACHINES. The result is two artificially creative and highly interactive music-making machines, as visually stunning as they are technologically pioneering”.

Absolut Quartet

“Created by Dan Paluska and Jeff Lieberman, the main component is a marimba played by an array of rubber balls shot by robotic cannons. Imagine the visual effect of balls flying almost six feet in the air before hitting the marimba keys with perfect precision. When a chord is played, several balls will be launched simultaneously. As they pass the top of their trajectory, their brief pause highlights the imminent notes.

The second timbre is based on “the finger on the wine glass trick”. The series of glasses, turned to various pitches, are all spinning at the same time – and they are played by small “robotic fingers”. The “Wino” will be able to play almost 40 notes at a time. The final sound source will be an array of robotic percussive instruments.

The mechanical movement of the machine will be obvious, but the cutting-edge technology, or the brain of the machine, is hidden. The degree of artificial intelligence will make the machine be perceived as highly creative, responding differently depending on the input it receives from its users”.

Go straight to a video on youtube.

If you are lucky enought to be in New York, you can see this work at 186 Orchard Street.

Absolut Quartet

There is tonnes of behind the scenes video tests, photos and documentation. Take a good look around the site.

Absolut Choir

“Created by Swedish studio Teenage Engineering, it looks and sounds like no choir you are likely to have ever experienced before. In setting up an advanced framework of speech synthesizers, Teenage Engineering has created a multi-channel robotic choir, comprising of 10 singing characters in various shapes and sizes.

The ABSOLUT CHOIR is an architectural installation, showcasing the unmistakable design talent of Teenage Engineering. It consists of 10 colorful wooden characters – varying in size and styles with the smallest being four inches and the largest almost eight feet tall. There are men, women, tenors and sopranos in the ABSOLUT CHOIR, each member with a unique and synthetically produced voice. The mother character holds a master clock – and each character contains a small, embedded Linux device, a DA converter and a speaker, making it possible to distribute sounds and to virtually conduct the members of the choir.”

At, online users from around the world can interact with the ABSOLUT CHOIR. As the Choir starts singing, the user may input words to the machine. As the machine receives the words, it immediately uses them to generate a musical composition and lyrics. The robotic choir follows the lead of its human partner, and with the help of generative algorithms, the machine engenders a melody, tempo, dynamics, timbre and lyrics inspired by the user-generated input. The composition is also infused with the machine’s current mood and from the most recently analyzed words input by previous users. A lot of short words with many consonants may result in a fast arpeggio-like song, while softer words may result in a slower composition. As a result of co-production between man and machine, ABSOLUT CHOIR creates a harmonic, yet surrealistic sound palette.

Congratulations to everyone involved, its really the best thing I’ve seen in a while.

Sony Rolly

Sony Rolly

Sony are releasing (in Japan) the Rolly, an egg shaped MP3 player with 1gb flash memory, bluetooth streaming, built in 20mm active speakers and dancing modes. At first I thought this was an extreme gimmick, but after seeing more I find some of the interactions really interesting.

This video shows Rolly dancing to a particular (cheesy) song. This kind of behaviour will create a playful and emotional attachment between the user and the product, not something you see in portable music players at the moment.

The motion editor (shown below) is a great touch. The sound waveform is shown along a timeline, with each function of the rolly controllable along the timeline with keyframes that we are used to in so many products like Flash or video editing. Functions like open & close arms, rotate arms around the shoulder, move each wheel forwards or backwards and LED colours. It also has a 3D preview, so you can see the movement before uploading to the physical device. Users will be able to share their choreographed moves online for other Rolly users.

This video goes into a lot more depth, showing some of the interactions of using the device.

  • Rolly knows which way up it is being held, so will close the bottom speaker. Rotate one wheel to change songs and the other for volume (shown here).
  • When on a flat surface, roll forwards to go to next song, or backwards for previous. Rotate on the spot to change volume. Once you change volume by rotating it, it automatically rotates back to face you on its own, genius.
  • Shake the Rolly to shuffle songs (watch video)

Its really great to see these sensors being used inside a commercial product in a considered and intelligent way, giving playful behaviors to a normally lifeless product.

Sony Rolly