BlabDroid on Kickstarter

BlabDroidHere’s yet another Kickstarter campaign that may be of interest to the chatbot and virtual agent crowd. The BlabDroid isn’t a real conversational agent. All it can do is ask questions in a child’s voice and then gleefully stand by and wait for an answer. But it has an uncanny way of connecting with people and pulling out their deepest, darkest secrets.

BlabDroid is outfitted with filmmaking tools and was originally built to shoot short documentaries. It uses the recorded voice of a 7-year old boy and its cuddly appearance to worm its way into the heart of subjects. It then makes a short movie about them as they respond to the questions, most of which are deeply personal.

If you pledge at the right level, you can get your very own BladDroid. It would be interesting to see the little robot outfitted with a more capable conversational system. At the very least, though, it shows the potential for new frontiers in human to computer interfaces and relationships.

Kickstarter Chatbot Campaign

KickstarterLooking for a way to combine your enthusiasm for chatbot / virtual agent technologies and your addiction to Kickstarter? Well, you’re in luck! Mercer Engineering Research Center (MERC) has recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to gain funding for their Histochat project.  The campaign is set to end in 23 days and they’re a long way from reaching their goal, so have a look and see if this is something that deserves your support.

Based on the Kickstarter videos, it looks like Histochat is an educational tool that will provide students with an interactive experience with real historical figures. The MERC team is looking to use ChatScript to build out conversational chatbots representing possibly five historical personalities: Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Susan B. Anthony.

Students will apparently use a smartphone to access the chatbot agent representing one of these historical figures. They’ll be able to engage the historical personality in a conversation by asking questions about the person’s life and accomplishments. Check out the Kickstarter videos. The demo isn’t particularly exciting, but the idea of creating chatbots to bring history to life for students is a good one. Hopefully the Kickstarter campaign will get more momentum in the coming days.