The World's Cutest Surveillance Robot Videographer

More

Designed at MIT's Media Lab, Boxie is an adorable cardboard robot that films you with its eyes. Alexander Reben, of the Responsive Environments group, explains that Boxie's lack of complexity is its best asset. The little bot's helplessness wins humans over, and they in turn help it shoot a documentary film. This video from MIT's LabCast series by Paula Aguilera shows Boxie in action.

Boxie is unusual for a robot, in that it is designed to influence and use humans, rather than the other way around. Its creators, Joe Paradiso and Alexander Reben, describe the goals of the project on the Responsive Environments group's site:

How do we leverage people to make systems more intelligent, efficient, and successful? Is it worthwhile to involve people heavily in the goals of a system? How does a system most effectively coax stories out of people? To investigate these questions, a robot was built that facilitated interaction and documentary gathering within an ubiquitous media framework. We then let the robot roam freely, with the goal of capturing stories about its environment. This was done by leveraging human mobility and intelligence, as the robot relied upon people to move long distances and achieve its goals. The end products were a study of how people related to a robot asking for assistance and interaction in various ways, and a set of movies showing the robot navigating the resulting "thread" of a narrative.

The project is also fascinating from a documentary perspective. Here the agency of the filmmaker is redistributed between the autonomous robot and the subjects of its film. It's interesting to imagine what kind of film you could make by unleashing 100 Boxies in a city. That is, assuming you could recover them at some point -- Boxie's cuteness and portability might actually be a liability if people are inspired to kidnap it.

For more videos from LabCast, visit http://labcast.media.mit.edu/.

Jump to comments

Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Crazy Tech Idea Could Become Real?

"There could be great intelligence enhancements, like infinite memory."


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Why Do People Love Times Square?

A filmmaker asks New Yorkers and tourists about the allure of Broadway's iconic plaza

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Video

Just In