GlowBots are small tangible, communicating and interactive robots that show eye-catching visual patterns on a round LED display. This paper details the development of the GlowBots from the early user-oriented design phase, through hardware and software development and onto preliminary user studies. In the design phase we outlined a robot application based on a study of how owners relate with unusual pets, such as snakes and lizards. This led to an application concept of a set of ”hobby robots” which would communicate with each other and the user through dynamic patterns. Based on these requirements, we developed a LED display called see-Puck, which together with an open robot platform was used for the GlowBots application itself. One particular issue is dealing with energy consumption problems, as resources in embedded systems often limit the potential time for user interaction. We conclude with a report on early user experiences from demonstrating GlowBots and a preliminary user study in a home environment as well as remarks about future directions.
GlowBots; Human robot interaction; Tangible interfaces; Ubiquitous computing