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This project, funded by Gebert Rüf Stiftung, is supported by the following project partners: ETH Zurich; University of Zurich; Wyss Zurich (UZH + ETHZ); OST Rapperswil; ZHAW Winterthur; FHGR Chur
Project no: GRS-063/20
Amount of funding: CHF 100000
Duration: 11.2020 - 11.2022
Area of activity:
Clusterförderung, seit 2018
The proposal is for the establishment of a new Robotics Aesthetics & Usability Center (RAUC) within the ecosystem of ETH Zurich. The aim of the center is to connect the world of high technology to Arts education and public culture, with a focus on the following three areas:
a. Usability: In order to make robotics accessible to non-engineers, it must be easy to use, flexible and robust. A key aspect of our platform is to enable the user to control and manage motion and behavior parameters in real-time through a browser interface. This eliminates the need for complex engineering software interfaces and high technical user literacy.
b. Sentience: At the core of RUAC’s mission is seeing robotic movement as reflecting the inner state of a being, and enabling life-like movement, responsive, nuanced behaviour and personalisation. The focus is on perception of life in physical animation and subjective interpretation, which is currently under-explored in the vast spectrum of robotic motion.
c. Aesthetics: RUAC foresees great potential in bringing visual innovation to the field of Robotics and the Arts by re-imagining what a ‘robot’ can look / feel like—also taking inspiration from a range of resources including Evolutionary Biology, Art, fashion and popular culture.
The plan is to develop the PATHOS tools, conduct workshops and hold public exhibitions that demonstrate the potential of Robotics as a medium of human communication; essentially, the affective language of motion and response, now in the service of the individual as a tool for self-expression.
What is special about the project?
The project is a demonstration of the potential for the complex field of Robotics to become accessible to non-technical users, through an open and radically friendly browser interface. It originates from the practice of Indo-Danish art duo Pors & Rao, who, since 2002, have approached Robotics as tools for a performative language of movement and behaviour. Shaped by their highly precise visual, form, aural and motion aesthetics, the project has found its way into a niche segment: i.e., enabling other visual practitioners to explore the medium of physical animation. By bringing spontaneity and intuition into the craft of character-building in inanimate objects, it is suddenly possible to explore a multitude of personal and cultural languages embedded in movement.
Although faced with the challenges of the pandemic with the team, super supers and hardware development split between two continents; it was a real test for the ease and usability of the PATHOS tools. We were able to demonstrate its potential for enabling new possibilities in the visual arts via collaborations with 3 independent designers, non-conversant with technology and leaders in their fields, who used the PATHOS tool to further their own visual languages. Its robustness in the public domain was tested through 6 public exhibitions of animated projects. Through a week-long workshop conducted for 40 students at a top-level design school, with the first PATHOS linear module kit, its versatility for individual expression was explored. The project has gathered a lot of interest, with requests for collaborations from communication, advertising, fashion and interior design fields. All of this combined potential led to the formation of PATHOS Labs GmbH, an ETH Spinoff with domicile at the Wyss Zurich Institute, in October 2022.
Persons involved in the project
Last update to this project presentation 15.12.2022