Science

My Roomba is Rambo

Posted 9 Oct 2007 at 20:37 UTC by steve Share This

An AP story reports on a new study about Human-Robot attachment that focused on the iRobot Roomba. Like previous studies, it found owners became deeply attached to their robots, named them, treated them like trusted pets, and worried if the robots got into trouble. This is interesting in the case of Roomba because, in the end, it doesn't really work very well as a vacuum cleaner. It seems the message for industrial designers is that consumers will accept problems, failures, and general unreliability in products, provided an emotional bond can be formed between the product and the owner. (couldn't the owner of any exotic foreign sports car have told them that?) The researchers also noted that robotics had done more to increase male participation in the chore of vacuuming the house than 40 years of women's liberation. The research was done by Beki Grinter and others at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Their finding were reported in a research paper titled, "My Roomba is Rambo": Intimate Home Appliances (PDF format). For more see our previous stories about a similar NSF report and a UK study in which psychologists place robots into homes to study Human-Robot interactions.

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