Monday, October 23, 2017

What should a robot wear in the 21st century?

JiaJia is a Chinese-built robot. For public appearances she wears hanfu, a historic style of clothing inspired by China’s ancient and medieval rulers. The team of humans responsible for choosing her outfits draw inspiration from a Chinese folk tale called The Conch Fairy. The helpful fairy in the story is a prototype of service robots.

“This robot is a very interesting development—it combines mastery of the most advanced AI technologies with a ‘traditional’ look. In that sense it’s almost a metaphor for all of the contradictions in culture in China today, the desire to master science and technology while maintaining a ‘Chinese’ essence,’ this ti-yong ideology.”
Another robot named Sophia is modeled after Audrey Hepburn and has been on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, sung at Hong Kong’s Clockenflap music festival, where she wore a jean jacket and a blue wig, and appeared on the cover of Elle Brasil.

Her stylist, Jeanne Lim, talks about the challenges of dressing her:
"Sophia’s body ends at her waist. For the Fallon show Sophia appeared on a wheeled pedestal, which allowed her to don a long skirt and speak with the late-night host face to face. Because Sophia’s interactive capabilities depend in part on a front-facing camera on her chest that allows her to “read” expressions and react appropriately, lower-cut necks are better and turtle-necks are out. Dresses are hard because she needs somewhere for her power cord to emerge from. Lim said breathable fabrics are important too—Sophia tends to get quite warm when she’s powered up, and needs something that dissipates heat."
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