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Building a Twitter Emote Robot

Reactions in Real Time Social media is so pervasive these days that it’s hard to image life without it. But digital interactions can be isolating, because the physical feedback component gets lost. These three Cornell students built an emotionally expressive robot that physically reacts to tweets in a live setting. Users can tweet to the robot’s Twitter account and get instant feedback as the robot shares its feelings about the tweet via physical means such as sounds, facial expressions and more. Social Media outlets like Twitter and Facebook have become dominant players in the field of human interaction. Indeed, many interactions have become mediated by digital technology. We believe the loss of the physical component of interaction has had negative effects on human relationships overall. In fact, according to an article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine [1], people become more isolated through the use of social media. Our project aimed to explore potential solutions to the lack of physical feedback in the world of social media. We built an emotionally expressive robot that physically reacts to tweets in a live setting. Users can tweet to the robot’s Twitter account and receive nearly instant feedback, as the robot plays a sound, moves on its surface, displays the tweet text, shows a facial expression and lights up with different colors and intensities to convey its feelings about the tweet. HIGH-LEVEL DESIGNThe robot is a stand-alone unit intended for use on a desk or table (Figure 1). Users communicate with the robot via Twitter by including the robot’s Twitter handle—@BotCornell— in a tweet. A server application written in Python runs on a laptop computer and monitors the robot’s Twitter account in real time. When a tweet is received, the server processes the content, and fits the text to an emotion. The Twitter user ID, tweet content and emotion are all sent to the robot via a Bluetooth serial connection, an
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Building a Twitter Emote Robot

by Ian Kranz, Nikhil Dhawan & Sofya Calvin time to read: 11 min