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Mindstorms NXT and Personality

I recently got a Lego Mindstorms robotics kit for my mom, and we’ve been working together to build some of the projects.

While visiting today, I downloaded a simple Bluetooth application for Android which let me operate the motors and drive the robot by remote. I rolled the robot up to my mom, playfully darted forward and back, and inquisitively twitched in front of her. She commented “it’s like it has a personality.”

It’s unique how quickly we assign human-like characteristics to things. All I had to do was move the robot and turn it a little, and her mind filled in the rest, reading emotions like curiosity and playfulness into the robot’s actions.

It’s a useful trick to remember when writing and creating characters. You don’t need a lot to make something seem human, or to give the illusion of depth and emotion. Humans are great at ascribing emotions to things. You really just need to plant some seeds, then stand back and let your audience come to their own conclusions about the character. After all, no emotional statement is as strong as the one that the viewer makes for themselves.

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