Week 115 – robot stories, conversations and more


I will be experimenting with the format of this newsletter a bit. In this introduction I limit myself to an introduction, and dive into the collected news items right away. Impressions from last week are mixed in.

Like every week, I collect some robot-stories. In the broadest sense of the word: automated processes to human-like robots. This week the focus is on the enhanced products and industrial processes.

Also on the relations – or better – conversations, we will have. How to design these? Also interesting to combine this with the insights on social sidetones to add in the conversation mix too. And how will this find its place when we will have telepresence devices. Combine this with the disconnection of reality and zoomed-faces and brainlike computers. A deep reflection in the essay on magic and the machine seems to be the right round up.

Next to this, some more practical and physical installments. Printed wifi is very interesting. The Samsonite meets Project Jacquard feels like missed opportunities. Will Apple be able to create the right mixed reality?

To end this week’s round up; two fun projects; a strange vehicle and weird building.

Continue reading Week 115 – robot stories, conversations and more

Weeknotes 114; on future, AI, Amazon. And robots.

Hi all. A couple of weeks’ silence in the weekly updates. I was on vacation as mentioned and last week was the first week back. Right on Monday, we did a session with the team of ThingsCon at NGI Policy Summit to discuss our learnings from 6 years of building a community and organizing events around the critical making of IoT. It was a nice discussion but we found it hard to get into a real discussion with the participants; the Hopin-platform creates a kind of distance between the panelists and the audience I think. A good learning (read also the latest newsletter of Peter Bihr).

Tuesday was dedicated to two graduation ceremonies of students at TU Delft I supervised. Congrats Siddharth and Xueyao! I will update the website of Cities of Things later with some insights.

Also nice to meet the two teams of Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences who are going to look into the design of things that predict.

On Thursday Friday I was able to follow a couple of sessions at The Next Web conference, also online this year of course. I liked the talk by Ben Hammersley and Genevieve Bell. Also here Hopin was used, it is a kind of standard tool now. It offers the basics quite well but I am not convinced of the engaging part. It is one of the discussion topics we have with the ThingsCon team in planning our December event. Nice to find all the ideas!

And I picked up the news again. Technews that is, related to the topics I focus on mainly. It is hard not to be distracted by all the dark world news floating around of course…

Continue reading Weeknotes 114; on future, AI, Amazon. And robots.

Weeknotes 112; on the human-nonhuman partnerships, the fuel of AI, and living in rural clouds

Summer is over so it seems… September sounds at least quite different always.

Let me start this week to congratulate David Valentine with his graduation titled ‘Design for Calibrated Trust for Acceptance of Autonomous Vehicles’ with cum laud. His research into trust in relation to autonomous vehicles is very insightful, and the toolkit is potentially supporting the design teams of this new category of objects. The project is part of the Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.

I also attended the PhD Defense of Péter Kun ‘Design Inquiry through Data’ which presents an interesting framework for those that are interested how data and machine learning become part of design practice.

Also last week we had a successful ThingsCon workshop we organized together with Lorna Goulden of IoT Eindhoven on ‘Don’t Be Evil – Building Trustable and Responsible Technology Business. We had an interesting group of participants, Miro worked very well as collaborative tool, and we are definitely planning to continue towards a definition of possible tools to support for instance tranparency and accountability.

The coming week is the final week before I will be off for a couple of weeks of vacation, so I’m planning ahead for some new projects starting with students as part of the research into Things That Predict and Cities of Intelligent Things, and the ThingsCon Salon in The Hague and NGI session. (latter not yet on the website).

Also looking forward to participate in a workshop on Designerly HRI (Human Robot Interface) as part of Ro-man 2020 conference. My contribution is about the potential role of predictive knowledge in the relation with robots.

More on human-nonhuman partnership in the news last week. And more AI. But let start with some quantum philosophy.

Continue reading Weeknotes 112; on the human-nonhuman partnerships, the fuel of AI, and living in rural clouds

Weeknotes 111 – on Robophilosophy, augmented life and tech impact.

What happened last week? It was quiet with the graduation students, one is finalizing for graduation this week, another is planning for a green-light this week, two others are have these moment is end of September. I will update the DDL Cities of Things website soon as a project finishes.

Furthermore, we have been planning three ThingsCon events, one happening this week (Don’t be Evil workshop), the other is a Salon in The Hague, and we will also do a session at NGI Policy Summit end of September.

Last thing to mention is the Robophilosophy conference organized by Aarhus University. Interesting to see how they solved the online conference experience. A mixture of live presentations and discussions, and pre-recorded talks. The talks were – as usual with academic conferences – linked to the accepted papers in the program. The discussion sessions tried to combine papers in themes like Design, Moral Robots, Ethics, etc. These sessions were very formatted with strict time-limits for the speakers. That was good to prevent long winding answers, but on the other hand, it did prevent a real discussion to happen IMHO.

I did not have time to follow all sessions. I liked the session of Aimee Van Wynsberghe, John Danaher, Selma Sabanovic. The latter stressed how robots are a means for humans to communicate, and you can in that sense use robots for building communities. Aimee introduced the notion of reciprocity in the interaction with robots, as mean to create social systems. Design for reciprocity should be part of design for HRI (Human-Robot Interactions). I was wondering how this relates to the notion of co-performance that Kuijer and Giaccardi described. I think there is an interesting different approach to look into: with co-performance there is a mutual goal.

Danaher did a good final presentation as he dived into the question how social robots change our values. I don’t have the answer yet. Danaher sketched the roles of robots in relation to agency: from tools (negative agency) to supervised (low agency), interdependent (high agency) and reflective (moral agency). I might need to chew a bit more on this.

In the news I share here I have always some robotics topics, every week new instances of robot companions are introduced so it seems, gradually but surely taking a place in our lives…

Continue reading Weeknotes 111 – on Robophilosophy, augmented life and tech impact.

Weeknotes 110 – robots everywhere and futuring galore

Temperature is dropping, and we are slowly getting out of vacation times. There was not a lot last week to right about so I keep it short. I missed the new format of Pivot podcast I’m following for tome time. The Pivot Schooled edition are five longer edition with some high-profile guests. It costs 30 dollars for all five; this week Uber CEO will going have a discussion with the founder of gig-workers collective. I am curious how it will be.

Also this week a new academic conference on Robot philosophy. This fits very well the topics of this newsletter so I will have a look at a couple of sessions for sure. It is also an slightly different setup from the DIS online conference I ‘attended’ earlier: all presentations are recorded, but there are live discussion sessions you can attend. It is too bad I did not have an excuse to go to Aarhus, the organising university, but it is on the other hand a lot cheaper (registration is 10 euro).

We are also very busy planning some events for ThingsCon. Of course our annual event that will happen in December in an online format. More on that beginning of September I expect as we open also call for participation. Next week Thursday we will have a smaller gathering in the form of a workshop we organize together with IoT Eindhoven on ‘Building Trustable and Responsible Technology Business’. Check more information and RSVP at the meetup page.

Together with the Smart Cities team of The Hague we are organizing a Salon end of September (24, 15-17h) on responsible onboarding public digital ecosystems. All on their living lab Scheveningen. Read more at the meetup-page. As soon as there are more details, I will share these of course here too.

Let’s dive into the news of last week. Futuring and robots are the main drivers of the news here. And some track & trace at the moment that the COVID-app is introduced in the app stores here in the Netherlands. I expect some articles next week on that. I have installed the app but disabled the functioning for now, as I am still not totally convinced I need to support the initiative. More on that next week, on with the robots etc.

Continue reading Weeknotes 110 – robots everywhere and futuring galore

Weeknotes 109 – peak vacation edition

Vacation version of this newsletter. It is not me that is on vacation, but the rest of the world is for sure. I think last and this week is peak vacation, next week things are starting up and preparing for the new year.

However, the news was intense with the Beirut explosion that was almost felt like a live experience. Combining all the footage will make it into a frightening AR experience (not too soon I hope, or better never).

Also: Reels is there. TikTok competitor on Instagram. The battle begins now for real (no pun intended): experience vs status. You now see that the ‘professional’ Tiktok-makers refer to Instagram-accounts to make money out of their videos. But the experience of a Tiktok stream is some much more appealing as Reels is now. Read this great essay on TikTok cultural tricks.

Finally, to follow-up last weeks announcement of my visit to Boymans Drive-Thru museum at Ahoy. The super short review: it is a fun experience. And the experience is more about the setting than the art. Partly because it misses background information on the pieces itself. It is interesting how it changes your relation with the art if you are trapped in a cocoon…

I did not capture as much news items as usually, which is fine. Still some nice and interesting reads….

A Satellite Spots 11 New Emperor Penguin Colonies

A Satellite Spots 11 New Emperor Penguin Colonies

Nothing will remain hidden…. Especially when you focus on poo-tracking apparently. We learned before that our sewage system is an early indicator for COVID cases, here some other use… “An orbiter saw signs of almost a dozen previously uncounted colonies in Antarctica, boosting known numbers for a threatened species. The discoveries were made by spotting the distinctive red-brown guano patches the birds leave on the ice.”

Speaking about hidden intelligence…

Here’s why Apple believes it’s an AI leader—and why it says critics have it all wrong

Never a reason not use big words. But I think that indeed the hidden AI is much more interesting for user experience than the focus on the ultimate assistant.

I am think that we should rename AI to Artificial Understanding; or something.

And speaking about Artificial Understanding…

Dutch Hackers Found a Simple Way to Mess With Traffic Lights

Is it a hack or a form of citizen participation you could debate: “by reverse engineering apps intended for cyclists, security researchers found they could cause delays in at least 10 cities from anywhere in the world.”

I would propose to make this into a feature.

Dennis Crowley on Twitter: “For example, at @Foursquare Labs we’ve had some good experiences using audio as “poor man’s AR” …

Let me share this here too. I think it is interesting indeed to think about the role of audio as AR and especially in combination with edge-computing on devices like the AirPod. The next generation might very well be extended with a GPS and accelerometer and intelligent behavior to switch between personal (noice cancelled), social (transparency) and AR-mode.

Some reads with nice visuals…

Designing the society-centered design manifesto by David Marques

Designing the society-centered design manifesto by David Marques

I shared the society-centered design before as it came out, in this post they explain what design choices were made for a compelling manifesto. Useful in case you might up to creating a manifesto some time.

Asia’s Largest Rooftop Farm Is a Rice Terrace on Top of a University

Asia’s Largest Rooftop Farm Is a Rice Terrace on Top of a University

Not directly related to intelligent systems, IoT or robotics or life automation, to name a few of the common themes in this newsletter. But it is looking very nice and it is about possilble futures for cities, so I think it fits: “A building of Bangkok’s Thammasat University is now home to Asia’s largest rooftop farm.”

Video game moments in real life Shibuya chronicles EPISODE1

Video game moments in real life Shibuya chronicles EPISODE1

I’m pretty sure you might have seen this one pass by on twitter etc. It is a nice real-life incarnation of game life… Will this become a meme on TikTok?

And some more DIY projects to kill corona times…

A TZXDuino inside a Cassette Tape? It can be done!

A TZXDuino inside a Cassette Tape? It can be done!

For the makers. That are old enough to know the concept of cassette tapes, or retro-loving enough to excited by this. 

He squeezed some TZXDuinos into Cassette Tape Cases and I’m really pleased with the result.

Closing with two pointers for other newsletters…

Tis.tv – 5 new video kids on the block!

Nice to share the Tis.tv newsletter for one time. Often nicely curated videos combining new and known in a theme. This one is about the new tools for making online meeting more exciting. The version of this week is on delivery robots, but those you all have seen in this newsletter before of course :-)


I think it was Dries that pointed us via a tweet on this newsletter. Super to have these kind of niche formats that are very attractive and learning at the same time.

Ben Kraal is revisiting a UX related paper from 1992 and reflects back what happened with the insights.

Let’s see if peak vacation will be over next week indeed. Enjoy the heat wave!

Weeknotes 108 – on robots, automated arts, new systems, and thinging service

Last week I attended as planned the online seminar of Stacey on IoT with some nice panels with the theme Everything is Connected. The panels had good line-ups and it did a nice mixture of business in IoT with a touch on responsible implementations. I think it made clear how defining the services are for the IoT and both the design as the orchestration in partnerships brings challenges and opportunities. Due to the time difference, I could not experience roundtable discussions but luckily the video can be watched online.

I had to think about the book of Thinking in Services of Majid Iqbal of last year that also makes very clear how new types of things are not physical objects but services. Thinging in services.

On Thursday, I watched the NGI Forward session on ‘Dialogues on Digital Identity’ (watch replay) discussing what identities mean in times of fluid assemblages. This connects to that notion of services too. How do you know that the one that is onboarding your service is genuine? How to trust? With AI in the mix, it makes no sense to create ethical frameworks to regulate technology but focus on the processes. An important part of the conversation was on the question of centralized vs decentralized identity management. The UX of trust is super important.

We are looking into this topic too for the next ThingsCon event, a workshop on the Code of Trust on the 2nd of September. I will share the details next week.
This week summer has really kicked in and there are no (online) events on my calendar. However, I look forward to visiting the temporary exposition of the Boymans Ahoy Drive-thru museum that only can be visited driving in electric cars. I will let you know how it was (or follow me on Instagram and you will see some pictures/stories for sure :-) )

Maybe a bit off-topic, rather analog however the cars are electric. But not autonomous. Maybe an idea for car-makers for the future. Robot news is there of course as all weeks.

Continue reading Weeknotes 108 – on robots, automated arts, new systems, and thinging service

Weeknotes 107

For some years I send out newsletters via Getrevue. I started doing this weekly this year again. This week I start by sharing this newsletter also via my blog. One of the reasons is a possible revival of the RSS reader for reading and having this as blogposts here makes it possible for you to subscribe to this in your favorite reader. I hope this fulfills a need, and if not, it is a nice way to archive :-)

As a quick update of activities: as announced I participated in a DIS workshop on Expressive/Sensitive interactions with robotic objects. The workshop was well prepared and showed again the value of breakout rooms and a strict Miro template. Aspects of agency, contextual interactions, illusions of life where discussed. The value of these kinds of workshops is not in a specific outcome but finding common grounds with different researchers to kick-off more specific partnerships for the future. Looking forward to the follow-up!

For this week I will be checking out the online event on Tuesday by Stacey Higginbotham ’Everything is Connected’, well-known in IoT community with here Stacey on IoT podcast and newsletter. And on Thursday NGI Forward is organizing a session on Dialogues on Digital Identity with some nice speakers.

Furthermore, this week is about catching up with graduation projects in the Cities of Things Delft Design Lab and developing the next step for the research. And we are discussing ThingsCon activities that are planned for August, September, and our annual event in December.

On with the news. Enough to share I think. Hiding robots, challenging COVID-tracking, and spatial interfaces. Some eye-candy and the 48 rules of Powerpoint.

Continue reading Weeknotes 107