Abhishek Singh graduated from NYU’s ITP program and clearly he learned a lot about the future of computing. During his tenure there he quickly fell in love with hardware startups and, with a little grit and programming work, he created Peeqo, a robot that responds only in GIFs. That’s right: this is a robot that replies only in animated video clips.
God help us.
“I’ve always been fascinated by robots and I built this as part of my thesis at ITP. One of the reasons I wanted to build this bot was because I feel a lot of the conversation on social robotics today centers around their inability to express emotion or to be relatable,” he said. “I love GIFs as much as every other person and they’ve become a universal language of sorts on the internet and beyond, capable of depicting almost anything from emotion to information. Often a GIF just says it better.”
Like R2-D2’s cheeps and chirps, Peeqo has a limited human vocabulary but is a surprisingly rich communicator. He does standard Google/Alexa stuff – loading up Spotify, turning off your lights – but almost every interaction is followed by a clever GIF. You can play music on him and even start his camera so he can record your existential howl as you realize GIFs are now a form of rich communication.
“Peeqo sits at the intersection of three things I really love – building things, animated movies and GIFs. I definitely drew a lot of inspiration from Disney and Pixar during the design process to reach his final form,” said Singh.
Singh is the founder of Svrround, a 360-degree video startup. He is open sourcing Peeqo and he built the robot after integrating the engineering, software, and hardware education he received in school. He calls Peeqo the “love child of Amazon Echo and a Disney character.”
It’s clear that as we wander further into the uncanny valley robots like Peeqo will become commonplace. While I can’t imagine Alexa responding with a Whiplash GIF it’s easy to imagine a world in which your desk robot yells at you to get back to work when it senses you’re back on Reddit. You can see the DIY build here and check him out here. He’s completely open source so you’ll be able to cry about the death of the 21st century mind in the comfort of your own home after you assemble your own Peeqo out of grief, horror, and 3D printed plastic.