for whom: Marco Tempest
with whom: MIT Media Lab
for what: in 2013 Marco Tempest became a director’s fellow at MIT Media Lab and, during this collaboration, he started to investigate instinctive ways to interact with robots. This research led to the decision to create a performance where a robot would interact with him in real time and even assist him in doing magical tricks.
Marco acquired a Baxter robot and, with the help of Media Lab’s researchers, he modified it with custom manipulators and various special devices.
When the hardware was ready, the robot still needed a software suite capable of handling its new theatrical tasks and that’s when I jumped into the project. I worked side by side with David Nuñez, Personal Robotics researcher at MIT: he took care of the ROS side of things, while I used OpenFrameworks to create a toolset that would work both as performance controller and as an authoring environment.
After a few months of work we had a robot that could interact in close proximity with humans, was able to perform magic tricks and could be trained either using a computer or learning from a direct haptic manipulation of its limbs.
Marco named our newborn synthetic creature EDI (Electronic Deceptive Intelligence) and in march 2014 succesfully performed with it on TED’s stage.
pubblications: check out EDI’s page at the Media Lab’s website to learn more about the ongoing research.
EDI’s performance at TED
EDI getting nervous before stepping on stage for the first time