Blossom is supposed to be a family-friendly robot. Its soft, knitted outside and wooden ears are supposed to make kids feel comfortable. Blossom is synonymous with flowers, which are beautiful, but I don’t think Blossom is beautiful.
Researchers at Cornell and Google Zoo’s creative technology team designed Blossom to “reject almost all of [the] common wisdom of domestic robot design,” including “white shiny plastic with metal or black accents, glass screens and smooth, rounded lines and edges.” Unfortunately, this Blossom robot looks trapped inside a straitjacket or just stuck inside its own body. I keep thinking of Coraline, if it had starred a connected robot instead of a possessed doll. Guy Hoffman, who runs a lab at Cornell, imagines people making robots for people as gifts featuring these crafty materials. Maybe an Etsy shop of robots could exist.
Blossom doesn’t have eyes because Hoffman isn’t a fan of them. He does say people can stitch them on, although I almost think it could make the robot creepier. I understand where Hoffman is coming from; the idea of introducing “softness” into a robot and having it be more personal makes sense. Hoffman wants to reimagine our concept of robots, but Blossom probably isn’t going to do that. It just makes me feel sad.