Tovi Grossman is a Distinguished Research Scientist for Autodesk in our Toronto office. You may be familiar with his work on Autodesk Screencast and Autodesk Sketchbook Motion. During the week of Autodesk University, Tovi had the pleasure of visiting the London Design Museum to see Madeline Gannon’s “Mimus” exhibit, which explores the future of human and robot interaction. Tovi filed this report that I am sharing with It's Alive in the Lab readers.
For those unfamiliar with her work, Madeline Gannon is a multidisciplinary designer exploring computational approaches to design and is implementing cutting-edge tools that explore the future of digital making. Madeline’s relationship with Autodesk began when she worked in the User Interface Research Group in Toronto exploring the novel concept of on-body design and fabrication. She went on to join the Pier 9 Artist is Residence Program, where she developed Quipt, a gesture-based control software that allows industrial robots to interact closely with people, and famously became known as the "Robot Tamer." Madeline is also a Ph.D. candidate at Carnegie Melon University, and Tovi is serving as an external member of her thesis committee. Her thesis continues to explore the boundaries of human-robot interaction and interactive digital fabrication.
The London Design Museum is one of the world’s leading museums “devoted to contemporary design in every form from architecture and fashion to graphics, product and industrial design.” It just completed a major move to a new location, and Madeline was commissioned to exhibit a new piece at its grand opening, "Fear and Love: Reactions to a Complex World."
Madeline’s new exhibit, "Mimus," is the next generation of her work from Pier 9. The exhibit was developed with the support of Autodesk, Pier 9, and the Boston BUILD Space. The software and hardware for the exhibit were developed in the BUILD Space just before its own grand opening.
The Mimus system uses an array of 8 infrared depth sensors, mounted on the ceiling, to see the people around the exhibit area. The software stitches the individual sensor data into a single point-cloud that maps out the entire perimeter of the enclosure. This 3D information is used in real-time to determine the behaviors of the robot, so that it can do low-latency people tracking and basic gesture detection.
Besides pushing the boundaries of human-robot interaction, the "Fear and Love" exhibit was also designed to explore our fear, love, and anxieties surrounding robots and automation. From seeing people’s reactions to the exhibit, it is clear that it will successfully accomplish this goal and is a topic that Autodesk should continue to research.
Several articles have been written about the exhibit, including our own In The Fold blog post, which you can read for further reading and information. If you haven’t seen it already, check out the Autodesk video "The Future of Making Things: Robotics" where Autodesk Director of Applied Research and Innovation, Maurice Conti, shares some broader perspectives on how humans and robots will work together in the future:
Robots are indeed a combination of hardware and systems. Humans and robots together can achieve things that neither could achieve on their own.
Image and Video Credits
Design Museum, Madeline Gannon, Charlie Nordstrom, Gareth Gardner, Dezeen, ATONATON, LLC, Autodesk Inc.
Design Night, open to the general public, is an events program at the Autodesk Gallery at our One Market office in San Francisco. At each event, guests explore a different theme — such as biomimicry, light, or robotics — that challenges the conventionally narrow definition of design. The theme is reflected in all aspects of the event, from the activities guests enjoy to the food they eat/alcoholic beverages they drink, to the music they hear. The result is a fun and fascinating venue for exploration, networking, and the exchange of ideas. Though regularly held in San Francisco, and sometimes in Lake Oswego, Oregon, there will be a Design Night: London at the Design Museum on Thursday evening, February 16, 2017. Attendees can check out the "Mimus" exhibit plus all of the other exciting aspects of the night.
Robot interaction is alive in the lab.