IdleBot : exploring non-engaging interaction design in personal spaces

Caroline Overgoor, Mathias Funk

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

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In our personal spaces, we are increasingly surrounded by interactive, connected and engaging "things" that increasingly demand attention and convey a sense of continuous pace. This work showcases how things could be designed from a different perspective: seemingly aware, but intentionally non-engaging. IdleBot is a very furry robotic puppet that is waiting. Unlike many applications in social robotics, IdleBot has neither clear purpose, nor explicit functionality - it merely exists and waits. The subtleness of its interaction, consisting of mostly idle motions, is the starting point to investigate forms of interaction bordering non-interaction situated in a personal context. In two iterations, we designed a fully working interactive prototype that embodies different modes of waiting. The design of waiting behaviors is based on a prior observation study with 20 participants, whose waiting behavior was recorded for each one minute under the false pretense of having to wait for a "real" experiment to start. A Kinect device tracks people in close proximity and allows IdleBot to glance at them in serendipity. The video shows what happened when we released IdleBot into the wild.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExtended Abstracts of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Number of pages1
ISBN (Print)978-1-4503-5621-3
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2018
Event2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2018 - Montreal, Canada, Montreal, Canada
Duration: 21 Apr 201826 Apr 2018
Conference number: 36


Conference2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2018
Abbreviated titleCHI 2018
Internet address


  • designing things, interaction design, social robots, user experience


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