I just come back from the Humanoids conference in Madrid, where I attended to an interesting workshop about Humanoid Robots and Creativity. Here are some points that I found particularly relevant for the Poppy project.
The first talk was by Will Jackson, founder of the Engineered Arts company. This company builds expressive humanoids and use them in artistic exhibitions. Will Jackson has interesting reflections about what is possible to do with humanoid robots right now: in his opinion art is the main field, if not the only one, where this technology has immediate and useful applications. He made the point that human actors do not necessarily need complex cognitive abilities, hence current robots could efficiently make part of the job
The company is also developing visual programming software for these robots based on Python. From what I understood we can send him an email to have a free licence.
Another interesting talk was by Karolina Zawieska (website, but more info on research gate), who is a sociologist PhD student. She studies “to what extent and why do people perceive robots as „alive“ and is particularly interested by humanoids. in her talk and the associated paper, she argue that " Disembodied robots can be seen as a part of iconic design, where a social robot only vaguely resembles a human being. Such robots leave room for human imagination to complete the anthropomorphic illusion of life. The other way to approach disembodied design, however, is to use [it] as a tool to deliberately foster human creativity and imagination. In such a case, the main assumption is that human creativity, the ability to make meanings and anthropomorphism share a number of qualities that can become guidelines for robot design.”
In this spirit, Karolina authors Ghost Robots, which “have humanlike bodies but no torso. They have faces but they do not speak. They stay among people with no apparent purpose. The robot form captures people’s curiosity. Just as empty picture frames lead our focus to the missing content, disembodied design inspires people to imagine the rest of the robot body.”
She could be interested in realizing a physical instantion of such a ghost robot and of course I told her that the Poppy project is likely to be the appropriate platform to start with. @Karolina is therefore now registered on this forum and I hope she will be inspired by the project and its community.