Poor Lonely Robot

lonely robot

The Aqua City shopping complex in Tokyo's Odaiba district has to be one of the most confusing and poorly laid out buildings we've ever encountered, so it would seem to be a natural fit for an 'information' robot to give directions, point customers to the appropriate shops, and provide general security. Sure enough, we found this robot on the 3rd floor, but unfortunately no one seemed to be using it, or even aware that it could help them.

Part of the problem was probably the robots' general design - it looks more like a floor cleaner than a helpful assistant. The LCD touch panel in its chest was hard to read and positioned too low for most people except for very short children, and there was no sign indicating why it was there to begin with. The menu system wasn't very well thought out either. If you already knew the name of the shop you wanted and which floor it was located on, you might have a decent chance of finding it using the robot's information. Most people just ignored the robot completely and asked staff in the area for directions.

It was obviously a 1st generation attempt - a robot designed by engineers for use by engineers without much, if any, understanding of the typical customer. But, the designs, and the robots, will get better and much easier to use generation by generation.


One thought on “Poor Lonely Robot

  1. I went to a very interesting lecture about how robots and people will interact in the work place, at home and in the public. It was put on by a local college. The speaker was Dr. Bill Smart and the lecture was called “The Robots are Coming! How to Get People and Robots to Interact with Each Other”. It was a very interesting lecture and he brought up a lot of ideas that have had me thinking ever since. The robot in the shopping complex sounds like a great example of the problems that he brought up during the lecture. I agree with Lem, robots need to be designed to interact with normal people not robot geeks or engineers.

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