Rosie: A Communication Robot for Design Thinking

PI: Professor Mark Cutkosky


Distributed design teams face barriers to design thinking that current communication technologies have difficulty mediating. Contextual clues, rapid iteration of ideas and ease of direct physical interaction are often lost. We believe that developing and introducing expressive "communication robots" into designers' workflows can create more direct, engaging and productive exchanges for spatially distributed teams.

Rosie is a mobile human-scale communications platform developed over the last year to provide a tangible sense of presence for globally-connected team members in the local workspace. The next step in Rosie´s development is to understand 3 guiding questions: (1) what are the implications of an "always there" presence on design team activities and mutual awareness: (2) how does embodied motion and action affect both explicit and implicit interactions between design participants: and (3) what representations and controls may best be used to indicate the remote user´s communicative intentions?

For these investigations, Rosie will be deployed for field studies in both research group and project-based design course contexts. Passive communication data capture, observation of design teams interactions and direct user testing of features will be used to inform ongoing, iterative development and to measure the performance of the tools and services that Rosie mediates. We plan to collaborate with the Internet Technologies and Systems group at HPI Potsdam by sharing research and knowledge gained, and participating in the development and testing of each other´s technologies.

Rosie´s role is both as a probe to better understand the factors that facilitate design activity, and as a prototype platform for enabling better communication between separated coaches and teams, students and educators, and working design professionals.