Vinzenz Reinhardt is an interaction designer and media artist.
His work investigates the intersection of art, technology and design.

2017 interactive misanthropic robot

Robots are everywhere. They carry out a variety of tasks of different importance. Apart from the stereotypical assembly line robot, novel "social robots" emerge that are meant to penetrate humans' social domain. Research shows, that people already can be severely emotionally attached to robots (Slater et al. 2006, Bartneck et al 2007). Later research (Rosenthal-Von Der PĆ¼tten et al. 2013) proclaims sensitive responses from a human audience to the physical abuse of robots. SYMMETRA's personality is dominated by her misanthropic character. As a result, she prefers to be alone without anyone in her perceptual range. The narration revolves around SYMMETRA's abuse, in which the interactant inadvertently turns into SYMMETRA's tormentor.

SYMMETRA is an artificial organism with the ability to express her emotions. Her main mode of expression is her body language, through which she communicates her emotional states. If left alone, SYMMETRA creates slow, harmonic movement patterns on the surface of her skin. On the contrary, if anyone gets to close to her and invades her comfort zone, she becomes increasingly frightened and reduces her movements drastically. Further intrusion and lasting neglect of SYMMETRA's emotional situation provokes her to panic and unleash a dramatic convulsive behaviour until given back the space she needs to be comfortable.

The technical realisation is preceded by a holistic recreation of the installation in Cinema 4D used to plan and validate the construction. Inside the base of the structure, all hardware components are located. SYMMETRA's perception is comprised of ultrasonic sensors that can determine the distance of the surrounding environment, and therefore detect approaching interactants, interfering with her comfort zone. Her actuation approach consists of six motors using a piston mechanism to convert the radial motion of the motor shaft into a linear motion, ultimately altering the shape of her skin.

Through SYMMETRA I gained a lot of experience concerning the construction, design and assembly of projects in this realm. It has a lasting effect on me, as it really showed me that this is the kind of work I enjoy doing the most. Aside from the crafting part, I also enjoyed the process and the journey I took, which shaped my view on robots and intelligent agents in general. For the first time, SYMMETRA as a child of my own creation, made me question ontological concepts and ideologies. As a cybernetic system interacting with the environment, SYMMETRA convincingly creates the illusion of life-like qualities.