Design and robotics

Focusing lately on networked objects and robots for a project, I re-visited the interview of Carl Di Salvo made by Dan Saffer in his book Designing for interaction. (Nintendo Chiritorie, a remote controlled vacuum cleaner designed by Nintendo back in 1979)

The point which interested me here is the role design plays in robotics:

"What type of design work is being done with robots now?

Perhaps the most obvious is the work in industrial design in creating the visual form of the robot. The industrial design of a robot is an example of styling visual form with significant impact on interaction. In fact, its difficult to separate industrial design from interaction design in robots. Because of the newness of robotics and the public's unfamiliarity with robots, the visual form of the robot often takes a precedence in shaping our expectations of the robot and how we interact with the product.

In addition to designing the visual form of the robot there is a lot of interface design involved with robots: interfaces for tele-operation as well as interfaces for direct interaction. These interfaces might be screen based, physical, voice, or some combination of the three. Because we have yet to arrive at any standards for, or even common experiences of, interacting with a robot"

Why do I blog this? I am personally less interested in "robots" than in communicating or networked objects. And the role of design in the process of creating these new devices is relevant as it can uncover lots of new issues.