How Buddy’s Design Helps Him Engage with Your Family
Buddy is full of personality and childlike expressions. Here's how he'll connect with your family.
The design and appearance of a companion robot is critical to its acceptance. Blue Frog Robotics spent several years studying human reaction to various designs to make sure its companion robot, Buddy, was warmly received by the public.
Blue Frog also conducted extensive research on what humans find cute and desirable - and why. During the past six months, that research has reportedly paid dividends. No matter where Buddy has gone, Blue Frog says, he has been embraced, hugged and kissed. The comments heard range from “He is so cute,” to “I need to have one of those in my house,” to “I just want to pick him up and hold him.”
Among other destinations, Blue Frog’s research led them to Masahiro Mori’s Uncanny Valley theory, which hypothesizes that when features look and move almost, but not exactly, like natural beings, it causes a response of revulsion among some observers.
PHOTOS: Closer Look at Buddy’s Design
With that in mind, Blue Frog turned to Nobel Prize winner Zacharias Konrad Lorenz’s book “Studies in Animal and Human Behavior.” Konrad found that in each animal or object that was considered cute, pretty and lovable, there were physical characteristics common to human babies, such as small size, large eyes, a disproportionate head, faces and a round-shaped body with short thick limbs.
Human brains are wired to react positively to small objects that have similar characteristics to a baby. These objects trigger a chemical reaction that is both genetic and physiological and we quickly “fall in love” with something that we find cute; we want to take care of it.
Blue Frog says its testing process revealed that the only way to minimize rejection and fear and successfully introduce a robot into the home was to build a companion robot whose appearance would be similar to heroes like Wall-E or R2D2. Buddy’s design was also inspired by the Japanese “Kawaii,” which represents lovable, cute and adorable.
The result of all the research is Buddy, an almost two-foot tall robot with a rounded shape and accentuated, childlike expressions. He is full of personality and reacts to his environment through a range of expressions that allow him to better engage with his family. He has a high level of cuteness, whether he’s happy, grumpy, angry or sad. If it’s too cold, his teeth may even chatter!
Buddy was recently given more expressions to better interact with you and your family.
Buddy’s brain is an integrated, 8-inch tablet with built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. His 3D vision lets him easily track and interpret hand, arm and head movements, distinguish among objects, faces, animals, plants, etc., and gauge the depth of objects in his sight.
Buddy is fully mobile, with three wheels and a plethora of sensors allowing him to travel, learn and interact with the world around him. He is also equipped with the latest Artificial Intelligence, including face and object detection, recognition and tracking. He can also hear, speak and make coinciding head movements.
Buddy has caught the imagination of everyone he has met as a result of his friendly and outgoing appearance.