Tobias Kinnebrew on robots as paint brushes

The O’Reilly Solid Podcast: How using robots for artistic purposes changes the way we perceive art.

By Jon Bruner
October 27, 2015
Robot pop art Robot pop art (source: Roland Molnár, Flickr)

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The short film Box caused a sensation in 2013 by effortlessly blending industrial robots and projection mapping — physical and digital. Bot & Dolly, the studio behind Box, specialized in robotic cinematography until it was bought by Google in 2013, becoming part of Google Robotics.

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Sometimes overlooked amid the spectacular effects it developed in-house was the significance of Bot & Dolly’s software platform: it was an abstraction layer that worked as a plug-in for Autodesk’s Maya design software, putting otherwise arcane industrial robots in the hands of any production designer who could wield a mouse.

In this episode of the Solid Podcast, David Cranor and I talk with Tobias Kinnebrew, strategist at Google Robotics and formerly the director of product strategy at Bot & Dolly and principal creative director for HoloLens at Microsoft.

Discussion points include:

  • The creation of “beautiful” (or “artistic”) robots
  • Bot & Dolly’s work on bringing robots into the film industry (including Box and the 2013 film Gravity)
  • What it’s like to unbox a 17-foot industrial robot
  • How “artistic” robotics differs from “traditional” robotics
  • How current and future robotics technology will affect the way we think about the value of art

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Post topics: Software Engineering