Thursday, June 20, 2013

Beeping with Robots

The central objective of my work is to allow robots to express themselves using oil paint. But today I've been thinking about incorporating another mode of expression: beeps. My first Roomba was a castaway from my mother who, though an enthusiastic early adopter, has vacuuming standards the robot was unable to meet. Eventually I tried teaching it to paint which went well, until it went poorly. Its stair detecting feature failed (presumably paint-related) and it plummeted off a sawhorse.

Now I have a newer model Roomba and although it's better at vacuuming, the updated voice is a huge disappointment. The red model had an all-beep vocabulary. The white one has the saccharine GPS navigatress saying things like "open Roomba's brush cage" or "please charge Roomba." It's speaking in the third person, in parroted English. The Roomba only needs to vocalize three things: I'm ready to clean, I'm in distress, I've successfully cleaned. Whatever caused the distress is apparent as soon as it's got your attention.

I've been testing out some basic emotive themes on my keyboard today, and came up with some beeps to try out on Neko.

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