Glowbots: robot-based evolved relationship

Glowbots is a very intriguing project by Mattias Jacobsson, Sara Ljungblad, Johan Bodin and Jeffrey Knurek (Future Applications Lab, Viktoria Institute).

"GlowBots are small wheeled robots that develop complex relationships between each other and with their owners. They develop attractive patterns that are affected both by user interaction and communication between the robots. (...) In the current GlowBots system, when users gently pick up or put their hands around the GlowBots, they react immediately and visibly by producing new patterns on the display. The user can affect the new pattern by actuating the various sensors with sound or light. When the GlowBot is reintroduced to its robot colleauges, it starts to mingle with them and share its new pattern. The other robots are affected by it and start to evolve their own patterns and share them with their neighbors in turn. To observers, the effect is like sowing a seed that spreads among the robot population as they move around."

What is interesting is the way the project has been carried out:

"The project began with a series of interviews with people who have unusual pets. Interview results were dissected into categories and recombined to form distinct, intrinsic clusters of characteristics. These clusters were used as raw material for four personas, one of which revealed real-world attributes of a man who owns an unusual pet: (1) He does not pet his pets, nor is he interested in the pets' distinct personalities, (2) He is interested in breeding his pets to create nice patterns, (3) He enjoys reading about his pets and often meets up with people who have similar pets, to admire or even exchange pets."

Why do I blog this? I am interested in both the methodology and the outcomes. It seems to be very interesting in terms of the robots-ubicomp convergence; very well connected to the notion of history of interactions as an enabler of new relationships to objects.