Monday, October 6, 2008

Dr. Pekoppa to the rescue

Sometimes the only thing you need is someone, or something, that listens to you and understands you in an intuitive way. Something that just responds minimally and does not talk back. As most partners do not fulfill this requirement, the Japanese at SegaToys filled this gap in the market by introducing for once not a robotic fembot, fish or chick, but a cute little plant called Pekoppa.

This wiggly artefact moves its stem and leaves in a surprisingly expressive way, and because it's shape and movements are so ambiguous it gives people all the space to create their own narrative around this artificial plant, especially because it actually reacts to human voices. The following movie mainly shows some Japanese people getting things of their chest with this little healer, but some simply seem to have a nice social conversation with it, or decide to sing a song for it.

It is interesting that this 'device' is marketed under the nickname 'Healing Leafs', and I strongly believe that such developments can have significant psychological impact on society. It is maybe not very noticeable, but humanity is undergoing an enormous psychological crisis, desperately labeling any anomaly as yet another disorder, and rates of suicides, addiction, and depression are staggering. We lost a connection to our selves, are distracted by all sorts of fairly meaningless chunks of data and abstract goals imposed upon us mainly by the mirror of the media, and society, and I believe strongly that technologies can help us reconnect and have us reflect more, in a playful, empowering, and motivating way.

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