[SPOT] Robot Odyssey 1. Robot playing games


AR technology became familiar to the public with the release of the game <Pokémon Go>. Can people get used to the robot technology through games? Creator Yejin Kim developed a hide and seek game that robots and humans can enjoy together. It allows people to get acquainted with the robot dog SPOT by chasing and being chased plays.


A playing robot, SPOT
Have you ever seen a robot that dances to a BTS song? Several robots that resemble dogs make continuous wave motions or perform group dances. In the video released by Hyundai Motor Company, the quadruped robot SPOT shows quite flexible movements compared to robots we commonly know of. They can sit down on the command to ‘sit’ or do push-ups.

The extreme views towards robots as just simple tools or dangerous artificial intelligences close our imagination. How about a robot that runs around and plays with humans? As a nickname of the robot dog, it exhibits excellent mobility and becomes a friend who communicates with people.


Robot interaction changed by AR hide and seek game
Artist Yejin Kim created a hide and seek game where SPOT and humans can interact using AR technology. The rules are the same as the existing hide and seek. A seeker looks around the space to find players and wins if the seeker finds where the player is hiding within the time limit and loses if the player hides until the end without being found by the seeker. In this game, there are two interesting things. One is that the seeker is not a human but a robot SPOT. Another is that players must find virtual AR cover that is only visible on the tablet screen and hide behind it in order to survive.

The technologies used for this game are Digital Twin and Mapping. Digital twin refers to replicating creatures or objects in real life into virtual space. Meanwhile, Mapping is a technology that pairs and links specific data one-to-one. When using Digital twin and Mapping technologies together, the real-world SPOT and the players’ locations appear in virtual space in real-time. Of course, along with virtual space and covers.

The completed AR hide and seek game changed the way robots and humans interact in three aspects. First, the artist expanded the number of participants from 1:1 to 1 (robot): N (humans). In the characteristics of the hide and seek game, it is natural for one SPOT and four players to communicate at the same time.

Second, the purpose of interaction has changed from a robot that makes daily life convenient to a relationship-oriented behavior that plays with humans. Existing robot vacuums and serving robots are close to just a boring contractual relationship that provides services according to human needs. However, AR hide and seek game aims at playing so that the robot comes as a friendly existence that is far from useful or efficient.

Third, anyone who is not a developer can communicate with the robot and understand how the robot works. The game allows unlimited communications between players just by setting clear rules and goals. For example, in the AR hide and seek game, when SPOT is looking ahead, a play of confusing SPOT with a slight touch from the back can occur. In the process of playing, the players get to know the limits of SPOT’s sight and the speed of reaction. Not only the psychological barriers to entry are lowered, but the imagination is allowed how to interact in the future.


Homo Ludens, Gaming Robotics
Johan Huizinga, a Dutch historian defined mankind as Homo Ludens (Man the Player). He saw that the essence of human beings lies in play. In this case, play is not just for pleasure but has significance as a spiritual creative activity. From this perspective, the AR hide and seek game also closes the distance between robots and humans and enables new ways of communication. Therefore, it is interesting to see the results created by the human beings who play and SPOT that plays games together.


About the Artist
Creator Yejin Kim is a robot engineer and visual artist. Kim has worked on HW, mechatronics, embedded devices, computer vision and artificial intelligence development in numerous wearable, mobile, and manipulator robotics projects.

Kim is currently working as a vision researcher at a Robotics Research Institute and continuing research to implement natural movements through reaction controls by focusing on recognition for the development of intelligent robots.

Yejin Kim also produces paintings that contain the happiness of everyday life and nature. So far, Kim has mainly used oil or acrylic, but recently Kim wants to try a new visual artwork based on experiences with artificial intelligence and robot technologies.