Wednesday, March 14, 2007

More Disturbing Than Helpful?

I read about this in the Guesswork blog: a lovely device called The Giraffe from HeadThere promises to take me off the wall in the conference room and into the realm of wandering around. This thing is really disturbing on many levels -- it reduces you to something even stranger than you already are in the 2-D world of videoconferencing.

It's like being the Magic Mirror in Snow White, or the lovely and vivacious (disembodied) head of Kitty Carlyle. I could sneak up behind people and yell boo, causing great consternation in the land. My co-workers could accessorize it with humiliating hats, antennae, or other costuming, making me an unwitting laughing-stock.

I'm not sure I need this or want this. And yet I'm strangely compelled.


Anne Z. said...

Oh my god, that is so weird!

Stella Commute said...

Thanks for writing, Anne Z! The more I think about it, the more troubling it seems to me. I wonder if it makes little robot sounds -- I would want to be able to make the sound of little servos firing or something.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for posting about our device!

The device isn't nearly as weird "in person" as you would expect. After a few seconds of talking to the person "inhabiting" the Giraffe, you forget you're talking with a robot. Just like after a few seconds of using a telephone you forget that you're talking to a little plastic box!

As for sneaking up behind people using the Giraffe, sure you COULD, but why would it be any more tempting than doing it in person?

Sorry, no robot sounds. But it IS open source, so if you really wanted them, you could add them yourself ;)

In any case, if you want to learn more about the Giraffe, checkout our website.

Dan Sandberg
Cofounder, HeadThere Inc

Stella Commute said...

Hey, Dan, thanks for writing. You don't address the issue of involuntary accessorization by co-workers. I think that silly hats are a real risk with this device -- perhaps you could add a shake-off mode, like a dog getting out of the bathtub?