Meet 'Teacher,' The Futuristic Machine That's Going To Show You How To Draw

Before we the design world knows it, skyscrapers will rotate, dresses will be 4-D printed, and bridges will be non-orientable. Oh, and tiny machines will teach us all how to draw. Welcome to the future!

The aforementioned machine comes courtesy of Saurabh Datta, a student at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design. He produced “Teacher,” a wearable piece of robotics that gently forces your arm into the motions of drawing simple shapes. For the science nerds, his creation involves force feedback and haptic response systems (think of the technology involved in video game joysticks and computer mice). For those not familiar with the essential elements of haptic devices, Datta explained the inspiration for “Teacher” in simpler terms:

“I remember when I started first learning alphabets my teachers used to hold my hand with the pen and trace on the paper multiple times, the letters. After letting me go I would do it over and over again and finally it achieved a muscle memory and I could do it by myself. I’m taking this metaphor of the importance of holding hands when learning a new skill.”

“Teacher” is similar to Datta’s previous work with “Forced Fingers.”

So far, there have been three iterations of “Teacher,” prototypes made by salvaging printers and reusing their encoders with Arduino, plus a few EMG nodes. The three tiny teachers demonstrate the possibility of machine-led instruction — a relationship between humans and technology that would rely on a person’s ability to let the machine take control in some instances. For Datta though, the perfect scenario would involve both learning and teaching from robotics.

“We can be better in designing an enabling system rather than just service robots, systems that allow us to do things ourselves better or making us better in certain things rather than doing it for us all the time.”

“The whole notion is to understand when machines start knowing more about you and they start showing that to you as feedback,” Datta adds on his website. “Sometimes [feedback] may appear against our will, how do you act upon it? On one hand it can act as a a teacher and on the other it might appear as machines are operating us.”

“Now you can strap you hand in and move you wrist along with the fingers and the machine record the movement,” Datta writes in a statement online. “Next it repeats the motion and forces your hand and wrist to go to those previous positions creating a machine rhythm.”

You can see a preview of “Teacher” in all its glory in the two videos above and below. Datta recently unveiled his work at the 9th International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction at Stanford University, so we can’t wait to see where “Teacher” ends up. For more on Datta, check out his past project — a smart umbrella that allows users to check levels of pollution in the atmosphere….

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