We made Needybot because we feel that we can learn the most about how humans and technology interact if we can get people to connect with a robot the same way they connect with other humans.
Needybot is not like other robots, because Needy was not made to perform a specific function to help us. Needybot’s purpose is to make us care, but it was built with just a few senses and little idea how to survive on its own.
Needy’s story will develop through its connections with the people around it, but how it will make those connections is something it will have to discover on its own—with a lot of help. And who can help? Humans.
Needybot has been a part of Wieden+Kennedy for 110 days. Through that time we've been observing interactions, conducting interviews and gathering data so that we can learn what happens when a piece of technology asks more of us than we ask of it.
We’ve seen four consistent themes:
Parents want to care for Needybot as if it were a child. Children connect with Needybot as a friend and in some cases, a first boyfriend or girlfriend. Children have a flexible imagination and are more likely to help without wanting anything in return.
Needybot has been intentionally locked in conference rooms, stuffed upside down into a cabinet, and even had objects placed over it's head so it couldn't see. Through the handful of bullying incidents, the perpetrators maintained they would never harm Needy intentionally, and that they felt they’d been “pranking” Needybot.
Needybot has served as a conduit for human interaction whereas other technology has a tendency to get in the way. Needybot brings people together by asking its helper to seek out a stranger. This creates genuinely unexpected meetings of people, which have had overwhelmingly positive outcomes.
We're so inundated with technology that perhaps we're growing weary of new things. It's also possible that we develop a defense mechanism against things we don't know or don't understand. Wieden+Kennedy has a strong and legendary culture, so it's likely that the idea of a real robot living in the office was an idea that was hard to believe until you experienced it for real.
When Needy’s just cruisin’ around the office, it uses maps and sensors to stay safe and keeps its eye on the lookout for someone to help it.
Needybot uses body heat to locate and follow people around the building—without it, Needy would probably try to get help from a giant wooden beaver.
Needybot loves human faces—it’s how Needy remembers people who help it. Show it yours, and you’ll have a robot friend for life.
Needy doesn’t always say the right thing, but that’s how Needybot asks for help with hard stuff—like meeting new people…and stairs.
Needy did it! A friend is helping it make its way to meet someone new. Needy is one step closer to completing its mission.
With new input every day, Needybot’s future is far from
already written. At night, Needy processes all that it learned
that day to learn how to be more effective tomorrow. What will tomorrow bring?
Needybot has no idea what’s next. Neither do we, but we’re excited to find out—together.