The importance of Aesthetics

A project log for Tobi-P, the rabbit robot

A cute, cubic and curious companion with a tilt camera. And a carrot.

jdelbejdelbe 08/29/2021 at 21:530 Comments

People who have seen Tobi-P so far reacted at first with surprise, then with enthusiasm. They are smiling, some even laughing. The question then often comes up: “And what can the robot actually do now? What is it good for? What is its function?"

The simple answer to this is: to be friendly. Tobi-P's job is to put a smile on people's faces. It is neither a pet nor a toy, but it is still an excellent companion in everyday life, especially when one has to stay at home for longer periods of time.

The secret is not in Tobi-P's technology, but in its appearance. In this way, it attracts interest, detracts from worries and spreads a good mood. The perfect example for this category of robots is the fluffy Paro, used for therapeutic purposes.

A key factor in the design of Tobi-P is that it should look cute but harmless. There should be nothing creepy about it, an effect (the uncanny valley) that can occur with robots that imitate nature too perfectly. This does not happen with Tobi-P because it is still clearly recognizable as an artificial being. And it is also quickly identified as a bunny: only a few of its multiple accessories are needed to make it clear.

Through his (googly) eyes, Tobi-P can create an emotional bond in seconds, because people automatically react to beings that look at them. They project their own emotions onto the robot, give it a character, and thus almost bring it to life.

Many people tend to associate technology and robotics with coldness and functionality. Tobi-P is also technology, but one that awakens warmth and joy and evokes positive emotions. It represents an easy and alternative way to connect with robotics at home.