Monkey business furthers our work with animatronic agents, as seen earlier with Stefan Marti's Cellular Squirrel.
Monkey Business is a system to keep distributed members of a group aware of each other's presence and activities in a light-hearted manner, while striving to remain non-intrusive. The system also aims to facilitate unplanned and informal communication among distributed colleagues. It consists of a network of animatronic agents, specifically monkeys, which are situated in the offices or rooms of each member of a group. Through subtle movements, gestures and sounds, the monkeys indicate the current activities of the other members of the group. The monkeys are meant to be ambient, at the periphery of one's attention. But they can also be used more proactively as communication mechanisms (similar to intercoms), and promote informal exchanges among members of a distributed team. The objective of this research is to consider whether such a system can be helpful in keeping members of groups more connected and in providing greater social awareness and cohesiveness among them.
In a related side-project, we have also explored the use of the animatronic monkeys as media to which we can send "behavior messages" from cell phones; the monkeys, upon receiving these messages, move and make sounds in such a way to indicate certain emotions or behaviors.