Shortly after the first lockdown began, I thought it would be nice to organise something to bring my work colleagues together, albeit virtually. I set up a hack day to build social robots. Social robots are real-world artefacts that transmit physical actions across the internet, e.g. shaking one robot causes all other robots to vibrate. The idea was to build devices to replace the more passive incidental communication we make when sharing an office. For example, catching someone’s eye across the office and sharing a smile.
The robot I constructed was designed to look like David Hasselhoff and functioned much like a one-armed-bandit slot machine. When the arm is pulled, messages are transmitted to other connected robots. On receiving messages from others, David sings one of his many hits, moving his head and jaw while his eyes and glasses light up.