Objects with intent

Designing Everyday Things as Collaborative Partners

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Abstract

In HCI there is an increasing trend to approach computing artifacts as agents. In this article, we make a case for "Objects with Intent" (OwI's) as an emerging type of agents that take advantage of the meaning of everyday things as the site for their intelligence and agency. After reviewing relevant existing research in HCI and related fields, we demonstrate how OwI's provide a new perspective on human-agent interaction. We then elaborate on how the notion of OwI's is informed by Dennett's theory of intentionality and Leontiev's Activity Theory. Thereafter, we illustrate the application of OwI's through the design case of Fizzy, a robotic ball used to stimulate hospitalized children to engage in physical play. We end by discussing the nature and merit of OwI's and reflecting more broadly on the challenges involved in designing OwI's.