Emotional Robot

The challenge was to explore the representation and abstraction of chosen emotions by designing robotic actions. The project was individual and two weeks long. While tempting as it may have been, no “faces” were allowed in the design.


I designed a robot which changes its emotions between joy when it's not bothered and confusion when someone covers the top of it's "head". I needed to quickly experiment with electronics and mechanisms and prototype with physical materials. I was looking beyond the use of a direct anthropomorphic signifier and toward abstract representations of something as rich as emotional actuation. 

Advisors for the project were Nicholas Pajerski, Senior Environments Designer at IDEO and Graham Plumb, Experience Designer.


1. Ideation

After identifying the emotions as Joy and Confusion I made the first prototypes out of paper and tape. I was experimenting with different shapes and moves to find the best representations. 



2. Mechanism Sketches

In order to make the robot move, I used my imagination and prior prototyping knowledge to design desired moves. I hid two servos, Arduino, and a light sensor inside the construction.


3. Materials Used

In order to add natural flexibility to the robot moves I decided on using foam, string and sponge. I added interactivity with an Arduino shield, light sensor, and 180 servo motor.

4. Arduino Code

I wrote the code to make the interactions occur. When a certain amount of light is detected, the vertical servo moves to provide joyful movements. When the light is below a certain amount, the horizontal servo moves instead, showing the emotion of confusion

5. Testing