HYBRIDEX

A Research Project on Hybrid Experiences


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Romo The Robot

Romo 2Romo is a small robot that moves on tank treads and uses an iPhone for a face. Developed by Romotive as a result of a Kickstarter campaign, Romo includes a host of features, such as the ability to track a face, missions, and a programming lab.

Romo is assembled by attaching an iPhone or an iPod Touch to a small robotic base. An accompanied app turns the iDevice into Romo’s funny face. The face has a variety of expressions and emotional states, and by utilizing the front facing iOS camera Romo’s eyes can seemingly track objects adding life-like behavior to the robot. Romo moves around via tank like treads and can also tilt its “head”, the iDevice, to better look up and down. The face can be touched for a host of reactions, including tickling. Besides the AI controlled behavior, Romo can be remote controlled with an additional iDevice.

Romo comes with training missions to help use it in more varied ways. Completing missions unlocks advanced features: for example, Romo can learn to follow other objects and track both faces and paths marked on the floor. It can record and transmit anything it sees to another iOS device, thus allowing users to chat through it. The unlocked behaviors can be programmed in a free roam Lab mode to create unique behaviors.

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R.O.B.

ROB the Robot 2R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy) was an accessory for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Receiving commands via the TV screen flashing signals through its eyes, R.O.B. supported only two games which involved R.O.B. moving around plastic discs.

Released in 1985, R.O.B. had a short product lifespan with support for only two games, Gyromite and Stack-Up (the “Robot Series”). R.O.B. was released in the US with the intention of portraying the NES as something novel – a “robot game system” – in order to differentiate it from the failed “video game systems” of the 1983 video game crash. It was available in a Deluxe Set, a configuration for the console that included, among other things, R.O.B. and Gyromite.

R.O.B. receives commands via optical flashes (there are six different types) in the screen. Just like the NES Zapper, R.O.B. only functions correctly when coupled with a CRT type television. A puzzle-platformer, Gyromite involves player collecting dynamite before the time runs out, with several red and blue pillars blocking his way. Player commands R.O.B. to place gyros on red and blue buttons (pushing the A or B button on the second NES controller), thus moving the pillar of the corresponding color. Stack-Up was sold with its own plastic blocks, and includes a series of mini games for R.O.B.


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Mechatars

Mechatars 1Mechatars is an interactive toy robot and a free virtual online game. Mechatar robot is a remote controlled toy that can both be used for completing missions and challenges against friends in the physical world, but also used to connect to the Mechatars online game.

With a Mechatar robot, kids are able to drive their toy around with the included remote control, complete offline missions and challenge their friends to online and offline Mechatar battles. Mechatars evolve both in and out of the virtual world. When you fight a friend, either online or in the real world, your robot gains experience points and becomes more skilled.  Speed, damage, defense, and other traits are taken into account. There are also attachable weapons available for purchase, which will also show up online when you connect your Mechatar Robot via the included cable. The bots are compatible with Mac and PC. Those without a robot can still play the online game for free. In the online game players can customize their avatars, earn or buy weapons and armor, and perform missions against the nemesis of the game, the Swarm. The primary location in the virtual world is the arena, where players spend their competitive time gaining experience and special attacks they then can download to their Mechatar.