Many years ago I found myself at the swedish head quarter for ABB in Västerås. ABB, founded back in 1883, is one of the leading makers of advanced robots, amongst other things, focusing on process productivity and the reduction of negative environmental impacts (energy saving etc).
You are greeted by an army of robots, most of them in typical ABB orange, exhibited like pieces of art in glass cases where they showcase advanced operations and exact movements. They are used in the auto industry for example, but play a key role in many other industries where automated processes are needed. The over-all feeling you get is exactly that; heavy industry, factories, big facilities and more than one Terminator flash back.
But art, artists and artistry really make the perfect partnership when it comes to humanising technology and/or showcasing technological capabilities. Add an artist and an idea, and you don’t loose any of the functional capabilities of this robot, but you gain a great deal of emotions. Knowing how much that matters in business (no, humans), it’s easy to see something like this being successful at a trade show.
Artist Alex Kiessling with ABB robot, via post at creative applications
Another (successful at that) example is of course Volvo Trucks and ballerina.
And on the humanizing robots note, here’s what happens when you attribute human characteristics to machines (anthropomorphism).
“but those little bastards can develop a personality, and they save so many lives.”