Dollee Bhatia

It's a personal experiment in robotic telepresence.

RoBhatia will let me dance, interact with people and remotely celebrate weddings and other big life events that I may not be able to attend.

A lot of elements conspired into action that pushed me into exploring contextualized robotic telepresence.

Two courses at ITP spearheaded the thought process for this project. Biomechanics for Interaction and Computational Cameras really launched me in the direction of using the body as a controller and experiment with with the Kinect as an input. These two courses launched the seed of this idea of reproducing human gestures mechanically in real time. Later this project was layered with telepresence and RoBhatia was in production.

I was inspired to invent dorky robots. There was something endearing about illustrated dorky avatars. I realized later that this was a subconscious decision to run in the opposite direction from the uncanny valley. The "valley" refers to the dip in a graph of the comfort level of humans as a function of a robot's human likeness.

By giving the robot and illustrated face the intention of sending the robot became a representation of a strong emotion as opposed to trying to get a robot to replace you.

Robhatia wasn't originally designed for consumption for users other than myself. However , I've have been told that there maybe enough people who would like to experience weddings and family occasions by sending a own robot version of themselves. If that is true then I think I may have a target audience.

User Scenario
As soon a close friend learns that I can't make it to their wedding the first response is "But how can you not dance at my wedding?" Sick of being asked that question, I've decided to make a robot that I'll ship to weddings to enable me to remotely dance at a wedding in India, while I'm in still here New York.


Robhatia made of servo and dc motors. The robot is hooked up to a microcontroller and also connected wirelessly to the internet.

I broke everything at some point. Wireless networks are tricky. I think the most important take away from this project was that telepresence can be creepy and intrusive. Contextualizing it was interesting because suddenly it became endearing and an incredible gesture.

Context is everything.