The future is rich with sensor-based, animated devices to give us affirmation, coach us and just plain keep us company. Smart Design’s Carla Diana gives a good overview in this opinion piece for the New York Times.
“As products become smarter, their behaviors will mean they essentially have continuing conversations with us, whether they include verbal exchanges or not. Just like we read subtle cues from our pets (we see a dog’s ears and believe that he feels sad, guilty or excited), we’ll read emotion from our products, perceiving nuances of dialogue and a sense that the object is “alive.” [...]
With this throng of sentient objects in our lives, we’ll have to negotiate a whole new set of relationships. Will we adore our new products as if they were pets, doting on them and anticipating their greetings? Or will all this lively communication create an annoying cacophony of gadgets? My hope is for the former, but it will depend on the designers’ ability to devise interactions that consider emotional value as important as any other product attribute.”