Half a century since the concept of a cyborg was introduced, digital cyborgs, enabled by the spread of wearable robotics, are the focus of much research in recent times. We introduce JIZAI ARMS, a supernumerary robotic limb system consisting of a wearable base unit with six terminals and detachable robot arms controllable by the wearer. The system was designed to enable social interaction between multiple wearers, such as an exchange of arm(s), and explore possible interactions between digital cyborgs in a cyborg society. This paper describes the JIZAI ARMS' design process, an interdisciplinary collaboration between human augmentation researchers, product designers, a system architect, and manufacturers, to realize a technically complex system while considering the aesthetics of a digital cyborg. We also provide an autobiographical report of our first impressions of using the JIZAI ARMS and use our findings to speculate on a model of potential social interactions between digital cyborgs.
In the design of social robots, the focus is often on the robot itself rather than on the intricacies of possible application scenarios. In this paper, we examine eight fictional documentaries about social robots, such as SEYNO, a robot that promotes respect between passengers in trains, or PATO, a robot to watch movies with. Overall, robots were conceptualized either (1) to substitute humans in relationships or (2) to mediate relationships (human-human-robot-interaction). While the former is basis of many current approaches to social robotics, the latter is less common, but particularly interesting. For instance, the mediation perspective fundamentally impacts the role a robot takes (e.g., role model, black sheep, ally, opponent, moralizer) and thus its potential function and form. From the substitution perspective, robots are expected to mimic human emotions; from the mediation perspective, robots can be positive precisely because they remain objective and are neither emotional nor empathic.
Emerging research has demonstrated the viability of emotional communication through haptic technology inspired by interpersonal touch. However, the meaning-making of artificial touch remains ambiguous and contextual. We see this ambiguity caused by robotic touch’s "otherness" as an opportunity for exploring alternatives. To empower emotional haptic design in longitudinal out-of-lab exploration, we devise TactorBots, a design toolkit consisting of eight wearable hardware modules for rendering robotic touch gestures controlled by a web-based software application. We deployed TactorBots to thirteen designers and researchers to validate its functionality, characterize its design experience, and analyze what, how, and why alternative perceptions, practices, contexts, and metaphors would emerge in the experiment. We provide suggestions for designing future toolkits and field studies based on our experiences. Reflecting on the findings, we derive design implications for further enhancing the ambiguity and shifting the mindsets to expand the design space.
Low-fidelity prototyping is so foundational to Human-Computer Interaction, appearing in most early design phases. So, how do experts prototype olfactory experiences? We interviewed eight experts and found that they do not because no process supports this. Thus, we engineered Smell & Paste, a low-fidelity prototyping toolkit. Designers assemble olfactory proofs-of-concept by pasting scratch-and-sniff stickers onto a paper tape. Then, they test the interaction by advancing the tape in our 3D-printed (or cardboard) cassette, which releases the smells via scratching. Our toolkit uses commodity materials; keeps iterations quick, approachable, and cheap; and circumvents electronics, programming, and chemical handling. We evaluated Smell & Paste in two studies. We found that the toolkit was approachable to people of any technical background and that novices and experts appropriated and extended the toolkit, making it personalized. Novices produced prototypes quickly, and experts were excited about the kit's technical affordances and integrating it into their practice.
When we go for a walk with friends, we can observe an interesting effect: From step lengths to arm movements - our movements unconsciously align; they synchronize. Prior research found that this synchronization is a crucial aspect of human relations that strengthens social cohesion and trust. Generalizing from these findings in synchronization theory, we propose a dynamical approach that can be applied in the design of non-humanoid robots to increase trust. We contribute the results of a controlled experiment with 51 participants exploring our concept in a between-subjects design. For this, we built a prototype of a simple non-humanoid robot that can bend to follow human movements and vary the movement synchronization patterns. We found that synchronized movements lead to significantly higher ratings in an established questionnaire on trust between people and automation but did not influence the willingness to spend money in a trust game.
Today's electronics are manufactured to provide stable functionality and fixed physical forms optimized for reliable operation over long periods and repeated use. However, even when applications don't call for such robustness, the permanency of these electronics comes with environmental consequences. In this paper, we describe an alternative approach that utilizes sustainable transient electronics whose method of destruction is also key to their functionality. We create these electronics through three different methods: 1) by inkjet printing conductive silver traces on poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) substrates to create water-soluble sensors; 2) by mixing a conductive beeswax material configured as a meltable sensor; and 3) by fabricating edible electronics with 3D printed chocolate and culinary gold leaf. To enable practical applications of these devices, we implement a fully transient and sustainable chipless RF detection system.