A robot drummer as computing student inspiration
Shimon is the next generation robot drummer, invented by Gil Weinberg, after Haile. While I am so impressed with Gil’s work, I particularly like to use Shimon and Haile as examples for our Computational Media students. Most often, the students who enroll in our Computational Media degree program talk about becoming computer animators or game designers, and that’s great. But that’s only part of what’s powerful about computation for expression. Robot drummers get the students thinking about all kinds of new opportunities that they’d never thought about. Making new kinds of devices that embed computation? Focusing on auditory rather than visual information? What does it take to interpret human expression (by listening or watching) and responding to that expression? What does it mean for a robot to become “social”? This is a great example of research inspiring and creating synergies with teaching.
Shimon, an adaptive, improvisational, percussion-playing robot, is getting smarter – and more famous, with appearances in places like the Stephen Colbert show. Now, humans have been known to get a big head under such circumstances. Shimon’s head has gotten “more social” – gestural intelligence helps the robot relate to fellow players and nod its head in time to the music.