I Heart You, Roomba

1:00 PM -- MercuryNews.com reports on a study that finds emotional attachments forming between sad, sad people and their robot vacuum cleaners:

    People give them nicknames, worry when they signal for help and sometimes even treat them like trusted pets.

    A newly released Georgia Tech study shows that some Roomba owners become deeply attached to the robotic vacuums and suggests there's a measure of public readiness to accept additional robots in the house - even flawed ones.

    "They're more willing to work with a robot that does have issues because they really, really like it," said Beki Grinter, an associate professor at the school's College of Computing. "It sort of begins to address more concerns: If we can design things that are somewhat emotionally engaging, it doesn't have to be as reliable."

"It's OK that you can't really clean and occasionally set fire to the rug. I just love having you around, Roomba!"

    Grinter enlisted Ph.D. student Ja Young Sung, who studies "emotional design" - the theory that certain types of design can influence consumers to become emotionally attached.

    First, Sung Young monitored an online forum devoted to Roombas, which revealed people who named them and traveled with them and one owner who introduced the machine to his parents.

Mom and dad worried that perhaps his new mate had too robotic of a personality. Badabing!

    Next she studied 30 committed Roomba users and found that 21 had named their robots. Another 16 referred to the robot as "he," arbitrarily assigning the robot a gender.

Best thing is, Lorena, his parts are easily detachable.

— Red Panda, Risqué Roomba, Light Reading

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