Behind the design – Christmas gift guide

The Christmas gift-buying season is here! Stuck what to buy your friends, family and distant relatives? To help, scientists at the Institute of Robotic/Android Technology & Enterprise (IRATE) have developed KR1S-BOT. KR1S-BOT is an Autonomous Neurological Gift Retrieving (Yule edition) Robot; ANGRY Robot, for short. To give him his full title, IRATE ANGRY Christmas Robot. Let’s just say, he’s not exactly full of festive spirit. He’s the star of Habitat’s gift buying app, ready and (grudgingly) willing to help at our website.

But let’s meet the metal star of the show…

Hi KR1S-BOT, why are you so angry? What a stupid question, even for a puny-brained meat machine. Why don’t you ask my programmer if you want to know the answer? Oh, no… Wait… He’s undergoing therapy for anger-management issues. I don’t advise you to get too close to him, especially if you’re going to ask any more stupid questions.

You love Christmas really, though, right? Of course. I love blasting chestnuts with my laser. Actually, I like blasting anything with my laser.

What would you like to find under the tree on Christmas morning? I’d be happy with some vouchers for a bot-buffing session. I like to keep myself shiny, you see.

What’s your favourite carol? Chestnuts Blasting on an Open Laser. Obviously.

What do IRATE ANGRY robots eat for Christmas dinner? I’m a robot, stupid. I don’t eat food. Though I do like to grind shiny nuts between my mighty metal teeth and wash them down with lashings of engine oil. Just don’t give me any Brussel Sprockets. They make my jet blasts smell something rotten.

What are your plans for the rest of the year? I shall be recharging my batteries. Literally.

KR1S-BOT was programmed by copywriter Roger Morris and designed by Habitat‘s senior design manager Andrew Ross.

Roger, what was your starting point for KR1S-BOT? Habitat came to us with the idea of a robot who helps people select Christmas presents for hard-to-please friends and relatives. The brief was to try and find a way to make that entertaining – funny even. Talking it through, it seemed that what might work would be to give the robot a very strong personality. I think I probably came across as a bit of a nerd in that first meeting because I started mentioning other robots from popular culture – and talking about their personalities. For some reason, the idea of having him angry and dismissive of the whole Christmas thing seemed to work. It gave a bit of edge or interest to the character which meant I would be able to put words in his mouth that at least wouldn’t be bland or boring.

Did you have any real-life people or characters in mind as inspiration? Very much so. I was thinking of Bender from Futurama. (Futurama is real, right?) His catchphrase is ‘Kiss my shiny metal ass!’. I used that as an unofficial tone of voice guide. But we also talked about Marvin the Paranoid Android from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. These were examples of robots or computers who had ‘come to life’, if you like. They have their own personalities and in some way they can’t be controlled by humans. I thought it would be interesting if our robot went in that direction.

Is Andrew’s design how you pictured him in your head? Much better than how I could have pictured him!

Andrew, what was your inspiration for KR1S-BOT? I designed him after reading Roger’s copy.  It made him sound quite aggressive and a bit of an a**hole! I tried playing about with that, taking inspiration from Billy Bob Thornton’s Bad Santa but it didn’t feel right. As I worked on him it became apparent that although he is grumpy he still needs to be likeable and cute in a strange kind of way. So rather than being aggressive I designed him to be more unfortunate looking and slightly out of proportion.

For more brilliant Christmas shopping and decorating ideas, click below…

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