Designing a robotic device that merges the concepts of a home assistant with a pet-like companion.
RoboSystems approached us to help build a social robot, a type of product that aligns with assistant-like home devices. You may have heard of other home robotic devices in this burgeoning field, such as Kuri and Jibo.
RoboSystems wanted to take social robots to the next step by building something entirely new to consumer market — robotic pets.
Our client highlighted a user group for an original concept: people who would like to own a pet, but due to certain circumstances (e.g. confined apartment space, work schedule, allergies) cannot own or care for a pet. Our partners at RoboSystems were committed to pursuing the “feel” of the product, emphasizing the need of the device to communicate emotionally with users, albeit in a non-traditional way — much like how a domesticated animal might with its owner.
The concept of the robotic pet soon evolved into that of a social robot that can provide assistant functionality in line with those of Alexa and Google Home, but with a major focus on media and camera capabilities. Needless to say, we decided to jump straight into user research to see what pieces of this venture most resonated with target users.
Using tools like Sketch, SolidWorks, and Photoshop, we delivered interaction and industrial design concepts for RoboCam, showing the client how to embody what a social robot pet should look like, how it should behave and interact with users, and how users would realistically interact with them.
Our interaction designs were driven by key values users have towards their real pets: physical engagement, communication, constant proximity, playfulness, understanding, welcoming & cheering up, family and security. We believe that these offerings of companionship, built into an abstract and approachable industrial design, will resonate with users as reminiscent of a pet, but manifested as a new and original product.