October 22, 2006

Dash Ornament Speaks

by Nick Montfort · , 6:07 pm

Rot Rox, a Dashboard widget iDream Interactive’s Rot Rox, which “simulates a human friend,” is claimed to be the first Apple OS X Dashboard widget “with Personality.” You might find higher-quality friends and better conversationalists by joining a cult, but this is a slick and telling piece of work. It runs on a proprietary, underpowered, new, and trendy platform (the Dashboard); incorporates about the level of verbal skill that Eliza did 40 years ago, but without the clever framework of a therapeutic session; and integrates standard Mac voices and an eye-follow-mouse gimmick. My opinion of the bot may be artificially deflated, because it is supposed to do something clever with iTunes, which I don’t use – perhaps there’s a great gimmick there. Of course, I wanted a better conversation and a more amusing framework for this interaction. I’m not sure exactly how to break the ice in the “there’s a metal man on your dashboard” situation. As the digital equivalent of a stress ball or other corporate toy, though, there’s no point in being disappointed about this empty robot-suit. It’s a good thing that people are continuing the march of bots and virtual characters into new niches of the digital world.

One Response to “Dash Ornament Speaks”

  1. Amuk Says:

    More like “simulates a feline friend”.

    That is if the cat is stuck in my Mac, speaks with one of the variety of voices included in OS X, and can only peep through an eye-hole in Dashboard.

    “Because earlier you were discussing how you were wondering what I may be good for?

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