Wizkid: a computer with a neck

Morning partner in commuting Frederic Kaplan finally revealed his latest project called wizkid (conducted with his team). In his words:

"Wizkid is a novel kind of computer permitting easy multi-user standing interactions in various contexts of use. The interaction system does not make use of classical input tools like keyboard, mouse or remote control, but features instead a gesture-based augmented reality interaction environment, in conjunction with the optional use of convivial everyday objects like books, cards and other small objects. (...) Wizkid could be described as a computer display with a camera mounted on top, fixed on a robotic neck. It looks like a computer, but it is a robot that can gaze in particular direction and engage in face-to-face interaction."

Martino d'Esposito, who take care of the design aspects, defines it as "a computer with which we could communicate in a more natural manner, but which would still not look “human”. Why do I blog this? I find the project interesting because it's shows the convergence between computer/ubiquitous computing and robots, plus I quite like approach Frederic describes by: "despite some successful results this kind of natural interaction systems has tended to be used only in the domain of interaction with anthropomorphic or zoomorphic robots and progress in these fields has not impacted more mundane kinds of computer systems". Furthermore, the interaction modes with that device are very intriguing through the "halo" mode (see description in the interview). From the output point of view, the interesting part is the "body language" used by the wizkid to express interest, confusion, and pleasure. To some extent it forces to ask questions close to the one I have to address with wii gestures, except that in the wizkid case it's about output gestures (and not input gestures for the wiimote/nunchuk).

For those who want to see it, Wizkid is part of MoMA's Design and the Elastic Mind exhibit, running from February 24 to May 12, 2008.