The dream for many roboticists, it seems, is to not simply evolve machines as tools, but ultimately to invent a new species of best friend/co-worker. But to create machines that we humans intuitively bond with — that don't eventually rise up to spite us like the ones in Westworld or Ex Machina — a lot of evolution needs to take place. It seems that on the way to building a (non-murderous) Maeve or an (again, non-murderous) Ava, there could be an evolutionary stop off at Peeqo: the robot that interacts using only GIFs, helps you with your work, and also seems utterly, painfully squeezable.
For his thesis project at NYU's ITP school (a graduate program that aims to "explore the imaginative uses of media and technology"), Abhishek Singh created Peeqo, a small desktop robot that interacts with its users entirely through GIFs. In the clip above, we see the little guy (it's apparently a he) in action, turning off lights, playing music, and even monitoring Singh's Reddit usage.
Singh noted in his thesis project presentation (below), that "GIFs have become a language of sorts of the internet." He also said that the ability for emotive robots to really express emotion is critical, and that the idea of merging these two ideas "would be exciting."
According to the Peeqo demonstrations, the result of the merger between GIFs and emotive robot is indeed exciting, and hilarious. By utilizing GIFs, as well as quirky movements of its body and a design that can only be described as cuddly-wuddly, Peeqo essentially becomes a far more personable Amazon Echo or Google Home. Singh said that ultimately "Peeqo's purpose is to be... a workplace assistant [and that he's] supposed to help you keep track of your work, to get the information you want in hand, and most importantly, give you... small moments of fun, delight, and entertainment to get you through the day."
"As human beings, we've always wanted, at least I feel, we've always had this... desire to connect with robots," Singh added in his thesis project presentation, to "move from [using them as] tools to partnership." And Peeqo seems like a great step toward that goal. Just remember not to mispronounce "GIF" around him.
What do you think about Peeqo? Respond with your opinion in GIF form in the comments below!
Images: Abhishek Singh