Having re-read Nigel Thrift’s – Electric Animals’ I clearly need to experience the ownership of a ‘living’ embodiment of an ‘electric companion animal’ so I bought a Roboboa, which according to WowWee, the manufacturer is ‘A Fusion Of Technology and Personality’ and I already have to admit to talking to it when it very nearly broke my new sunglasses. I have now, of course, vowed to never do it again or get caught talking to it anyway – I wonder why? I was going to put the link in for the WowWee site, but on second thoughts I didn’t want to act as a passive agent. (link here for ease!) Thinking from a purely consumerist perspective I managed to purchase it for £33.00 from Top ToyZ in Tewkesbury, which at first seems quite reasonable for the technology and for the actual size of the toy itself (satisfyingly larger than expected) but clearly from the current price, not a popular toy? From a research viewpoint, it could serve as an example for improvement – how could this type of toy or robot be affectively and effectively improved? – it really doesn’t appear to do a great deal of anything on any discernible level but still seems to evoke typical anthropomorphic responses (similar-ish to a pet) – which seems begrudgingly clever and clearly exploitable from a capitalist/commercial perspective and also regarding the so called ‘Uncanny Valley’ hypothesis, as far as making it more snake-like is concerned. It seems to be well built and lasting reasonably well on batteries, but for concerted use a rechargeable kit will definitely be required. The following video is not a good reflection of it’s various attempts at human interaction, mainly because the Demo and Party mode are particularly loud, irritating and pointless, whereas the Aware and Guard modes are more variable and somewhat biomimetic (snake-like) and therefore lend themselves to thoughts of reprogramming or fantasies of programming in my case. One thing I can say with certainty is, I can’t wait to unscrew it all?

Click here for Roboboa Dissection – so looks like I won’t be taking it apart then?


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