The aim of the Draghe project was to investigate companionship and assistance of robots in the home environment. The idea was to develop a robot companion, able to inform users about the quality of their environment and suggest them good practices for daily life improvement. The robot should be able to detect environmental information like: humidity, temperature, electromagnetic pollution, smoke, CO2, benzene, various air pollutants and gas. Due to the potential offered by the current and perspective presence of robotic vacuum cleaner into home environment, a robot design concept was defined. It consists of a parasite in shape and behavior: it is physically attached to the robotic vacuum cleaner of which it exploits the ability of movement. It also take advantages of the high level of acceptance that robotic vacuum cleaners already have, enhancing it as a robot companion. The interaction with the user takes place at two levels: direct interaction, consisting of visual and sound signals; and mediated interaction, through a GUI for smartphone or tablet, and a wearable key that allows the robot to recognize the presence of the user in the house. The robot, therefore, assumes the role of a mentor: instead of taking actions in the environment, it advises the user.

Prototype components

The picture above (courtesy of Ludovico Russo) shows the functional prototype developed by the engineering team, with which the project was carried out. The hardware prototype, at that stage, was composed by: a Raspberry PI board, an air quality sensor, a temperature and humidity sensor, an electromagnetic filed detector and a Wi-Fi adapter.

Interaction studio sketches

The design contribution was mostly focused on defining the interaction modalities, which were aimed to be playful. The sketches, in the picture above, show an early idea of using a same character, both on the physical customization of the robot and on the GUI, able to give advices based on real data coming from the sensors.

GUI studio illustrations

Other modalities, for the interaction mediated by the smartphone, were explored. As shown by the picture, screen locks may be used for requiring the user to access the data through some related gestures.