“Kip”, the Empathy Object

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Kip is an empathy object, conveying emotion through physical gestures.

It listens to people talking to each other, and becomes interested or scared based on the conversation tone. Kip was designed at the Media Innovation Lab with the following principles in mind: empathic, peripheral, and fragile. Our challenge was to create something that is highly expressive while still being an extremely simple robotic object.

Kip is aimed to accompany human-human face-to-face interaction and increase the awareness of the interacting humans to their behavior through reflecting one’s behavior with subtle physical gestures. These gestures are designed to evoke empathy. By reflecting on human interaction, we hope it can increase people’s awareness to their own behavior. The idea is that people’s empathy towards the robot will cause them to have empathy towards each other too.

Kip is part of our ongoing design exploration into the future of robotic devices. Nonverbal behavior is key to how robots communicate with people. Our next step is to set a new research direction for Kip in the context of conversations. We hope to discover whether Kip can be essential in creating a good balanced conversation within a group.

Written by Danielle Rifinski, a third year student at the Sammy Ofer School of Communications & Research Assistant at IDC miLAB.

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