Robots in Focus: Looking Into The Future of Human-Robot Interaction

At San Francisco Design Week 2024, Card79 welcomed attendees into its studio for “Hello, Robot: Welcoming the Age of Human-Robot Interaction.” This engaging event dove into the burgeoning field of human-robot interactions, examining how design can play a role as AI and Robots converge to create new capabilities and businesses. The evening buzzed with excitement as participants showed genuine curiosity about the subject. The studio provided the perfect backdrop for a dynamic discussion on this evolving topic, nicely capturing the essence of innovation ‘in the making.’

With this year’s theme being “Attention,” the event encouraged us to be intentional about nurturing what matters most as new technology like robotics further integrates into our daily lives.

Exploring AI, Robotics, and Human Needs

As the integration of AI with robotics advances, robots are becoming more adept—with minimal training—at performing a variety of complex tasks in our daily lives and industries, ranging from elderly care to transforming manufacturing processes. This raises an important question: how do we want these robots to interact with us? After all, our expectations and needs go beyond mere functional execution of tasks; they require an interface that harmonizes with us, much like how computers have dramatically improved how they interact with humans over the last few decades.

During SF Design Week, Prof. Jussi Ängeslevä from ART+COM captivated the audience with his discussion on designing seminal kinetic installations. He took us through one of his team’s most iconic projects at the BMW Museum, elaborating on the creative and technical hurdles they overcame to transform digital concepts into enduring physical exhibits. His insights connected deeply as we contemplated the potential challenges that complex robotic systems might face when deployed in unpredictable environments—a situation reminiscent of the infamous images of abandoned e-scooters from 2019/2020. Moreover, his projects underscored the emotional impact of physical movement, echoing the aesthetic grace in Alexander Calder’s kinetic art. By focusing on bespoke museum installations, Prof. Ängeslevä demonstrated how our creative ventures in human-robot interaction could flourish by stepping away from conventional design constraints

Greg Katz, an award-winning industrial designer, shared insights on creating robots that integrate seamlessly into our lives. Katz emphasized principles like matching a robot’s capabilities to user expectations – learnings from early social robot designers that helped craft believable experiences. He did an amazing job of highlighting core design principles when designing robots. These principles include ensuring robots consistently meet user expectations without overpromising through their physical design, considering cultural differences and social norms, utilizing familiar interaction models, and achieving a balance between simplicity and complexity in design. Katz’s presentation effectively equipped the audience with crucial perspectives on what it takes to design a robot capable of meaningful human interaction

Afshin Mehin from Card79 showcased innovative projects emphasizing user-centered design to improve human-robot collaboration. He introduced Coevolve, a project envisioning harmonious coexistence between humans and robots through provocative case studies pushing boundaries and sparking discussions about humanity’s evolving relationship with advanced AI systems.

The ongoing Coevolve case studies explored integrating robots into scenarios like caregiving and manufacturing while emphasizing an optimal user experience, safety considerations, and maintaining meaningful human connections.

In the next article, we’ll dive deeper into Card79’s “Coevolve” project, exploring captivating visions of human-robot coexistence in the future.

“The Halo” Getting Attention at SF Design Week Awards

Adding to the excitement of the festival, Card79’s work, “The Halo” was given an honorable mention for the emerging technology category at the San Francisco Design Week Awards.

“The Halo” is a non-invasive neural interface device developed by Prophetic to stabilize and induce naturally occurring lucid dreams to control them. We worked with them to develop their first concept device and create their future vision to facilitate their R&D roadmap. The design is motivated by the aspiration to enable more people to experience and control the power of lucid dreaming.

This project exemplifies our commitment to user-centered experiences that benefit people’s lives through comfort, function, and aesthetics.

We’re incredibly grateful to the SFDW committee for acknowledging the potential of our work and uniting the vibrant design community in San Francisco!