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Target_is_New - Issue #134

Another week has flown by… Did you buy your first NFT art piece? Or sold maybe? Played a Roblox game? I have to be honest, I am not a regular gamer and just installed Roblex to have a peek and see if I can understand the buzz. It is of course already existing for a long time now (see this Twitter thread from an early investor), the fuss is not about the quality of the games per se, but about the potential signaling of a metaverse platform. Or Microverse as Ben Thompson describes.
“[…] This creates the conditions for the interlocking feedback loops that characterize transformational products; by reducing the prominence and feature set of games, Roblox made it possible to create something bigger. A microverse.”
Enough on the weekly hypes. Or maybe one more, here in the Netherlands we are on the verge of the elections. The role of the digital policy is part of the differences and at the Public Spaces conferences that were organized last week, a digital political manifesto was signed by a number of parties. Good to see this happen. I doubt we will have a minister of digital technology in the next administration, but it is on the agenda hopefully. As it should, in the end, be part of everything, as digital technology is nowadays…
Speaking at conferences. These weeks are peak conferences as I mentioned last week. Mozfest did start last week and last this week too. I did not have been able to follow a lot of sessions, just a couple. I will try to find some time for sessions this week. And there was Public Spaces Conference, that is very similar in topics and organizers. I followed a few sessions that tried to deepen the manifesto for public spaces, as the one of Katja Bego, Eli Pariser, and Paul Keller. “Enable self-determination, cultivate the commons, empower public institutions, decentralize infrastructure” as Paul Keller the backgrounds of digital policies discussing an interoperable public civic ecosystem. And I attended a pleasant discussion on hybrid events on ghost theaters as a stage for live-streaming and more.
I also was able to follow some sessions from HRI2021, an academic conference on human-robotic interactions. Very relevant for the research I do in Delft. It is part of the Cities of Things-drivers. I did follow the keynote of Mary-Anne Williams early in the night due to timezones (12-1 am) and I liked some of the research work she shared on social intelligence in HRI. For social intelligence in robot interaction, the robot needs to have a model of itself. The research on the difference in perception of a pointing robot with or without a line of sight to lead the pointing.
I was wondering during a couple of the paper sessions I watched why the research object of robotic research is always a humanoid robot, often the Pepper. This is limiting the imagination I would say. You could connect this to the critical paper of Lupetti et al on the state of Designerly ways of knowing in HRI. Very well presented and thought-through explorations on design and design-design. To quote my own tweet: it made very clear how more mature application of design methods will benefit the development of HRI which is very needed as we will live together with robotic creatures.
I was happy to see the last research project in that session on children as robot designers; it is a perfect project in the process and I am curious to see more of the robot in action.
If you are into academic reading, find an overview of all papers here.
So far on the conferences, below I will end with the plans for this week… Before diving into the news articles I captured, I like to welcome here another student to the Cities of Things Lab; Yeonju will design for “Enhancing affective interaction with multimodal travel companion”. Find an overview of all the research projects on
So on to the news, I noticed last week on trust in human-robotics partnerships…

On robotics and their relations with us...
world's first-ever remote tattoo needled by robot arm via 5G network
StrawBot follows harvesters to improve strawberry picking productivity
Eye surgery robotics startup ForSight raises $10M – TechCrunch
This AI Robot Will Paint A Canvas At SXSW 2021
Self-driving robot delivery startup raises $4.2 million
This Fingertip for Robots Uses Magnets to ‘Feel’ Things
Other smartness or intelligence
The googly eyes of the mantis shrimp inspire new optical sensors
And not so smart...
Headphones without headphones: We test Lucyd Lyte Bluetooth sunglasses
To close...
And to close this week’s newsletter, a look forward. More conferences to follow. I bought a ticket for the online edition of SXSW. After 7 editions in Austin, this will be very different I’m sure. But the number of sessions to choose from is as overwhelming as always. I did not have a good overview but trust my selection training from earlier editions. I am invited to share my impressions also via a Dutch blog, but will share first impressions here too next week. Also, the Mozfest is continuing, and Sensemakers AMS has a nice edition with Nadya Peek amongst others this Wednesday evening. NEXT Live might be something to check out on Tuesday, with Azeem Azhar who is writing a newsletter I try to keep track of this newsletter too. For next week I saw the tinyML summit passing by, might be a bit techy but super relevant in IoT.
Let’s keep it to that, have a great week!
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Iskander Smit
Iskander Smit @iskandr

I am working @Infonl as innovation director, also blogger, co-organising @ThingsCon & Behavior Design AMS meetup #bdams
Visiting researcher and lab-director at TU Delft Industrial Design Engineering (

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