“Can you spare some change?” Group Write-up – Jen, Peter and Paweena

“Can you spare some change?” started out as a public spaces project. The goal was to create an interface in which strangers would interact.

Prototype I:

For our very first prototype, we took an RC car and attached an iPod to it so that we could use FaceTime to communicate between the iPod and our computers.

Here we are testing our prototype:

BumBot Prototype 1

It seemed pretty successful, so we moved forward.

Prototype II:

We then decided to give our prototype a personality. We were testing our prototype, and were approached by religious solicitors. So we started thinking about other solicitors, and thought about the homeless. Because I had worked briefly with a few homeless individuals in the city, and found them to be quite intriguing, we decided we would try to give our prototype a homeless personality. We then came up with this for our second prototype.

We put a mini portable speaker into the robot’s mouth, and asked my homeless friend, “Spooky” to help us test-drive it around Union Square in New York City. Here are the results from the first test.

Public Spaces Project Test 1 – Union Square

We felt that the results were overall successful. But, we were given some feedback from some of the strangers we encountered. A few people felt that this robot looked a little bit scary, and sloppy. And having one eye was creepy. So using that, and input from “Spooky,” we moved forward.

Prototype III:

Testing for the third prototype wasn’t as successful as we had hoped. According to more feedback, the black wasn’t as inviting as the cardboard. People also tended to gravitate towards the human aspect of the robot when it was wearing clothing.

So, we decided to go back to the original design, but make the robot more sturdy, and give him another eye. We also named the robot “BumBot” and gave him a Twitter account to enable people to follow his activities online.

Upon further research and thought, we decided that we wanted to compare how “BumBot” interacts with people, and how “Spooky” interacts with people. So we followed “Spooky” around for a few hours and made this video to document it.

A day with Spooky

We really enjoyed our day with “Spooky” and decided that for our final project, we would create a documentary.

Here is our final documentary.

\”Can you spare some change?\” Final documentary

“Can you spare some change?” is a short documentary that examines the relationships between human-human and human-“robot” interactions. A robot, “BumBot” was created by Parsons MFA Design and Technology students Peter Chang, Jennifer Matsumoto and Paweena Prachanronarong in collaboration with “Spooky,” a homeless citizen in New York City. “Spooky” drove “BumBot” around Union Square, and shared his perspective on the differences between human-human and human-robot relationships for one homeless citizen – himself. The documentary created a poignant examination into human relationships and the social landscape of New York City. The viewer is also asked if they can spare some change in their perception of the homeless community.

Music by: The Doors “People are Strange”