Adorable BlabDroid social robot wants to be your bot buddy

Cute BladDroid robots are currently making a documentary about humans, but a Kickstarter aims to give you your very own social robot companion.

BlabDroid robot
The BlabDroid is looking to be your Bluetooth buddy. BlabDroid

If you happen to meet a BlabDroid in public, the smiling cardboard-headed robot may roll up to you and ask a question like, "Who do you love most in the world?" or "What's the worst thing you've ever done to someone?" These bots are making a documentary about human-robot relationships, but you may be able get a BlabDroid of your very own.

BlabDroid is the creation of artist and roboticist Alexander Reben. Filmmaker Brent Hoff is using them for a documentary about how humans interact with robots. Versions of the little bots with a camera and speaker onboard are traveling around to international film festivals, where they ask preset questions and film the results. That footage will be edited into a movie. A new Kickstarter project is offering them to the world. The robot can connect to your phone via Bluetooth, so it will be able to work with apps and features like Siri.

You can pick up a basic BlabDroid starter kit for $75, but a full-on BlabDroid runs $299. Those pledge levels include a digital copy of the robot film upon completion. You'll have to add your own camera if you want your robot to become a documentarian like the ones Hoff is using for his film project.

The BlabDroids are cute on purpose. MIT computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum's came up with concept of the ELIZA effect, named after an early natural-language-processing computer program. People want to see human qualities in robots and interact with them on an emotional level. Make the robot adorable, have it voiced by a 7-year-old boy, and you stand a better chance of getting people to confess their innermost thoughts and secrets to it.

Check out the teaser video to see what people are willing to tell a robot with a smile on its face.

About the author

Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET's Crave blog. When not wallowing in weird gadgets and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.


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