Few weeks ago, I carried in my arms Omo, Kelly Dobson’s new companion robot. A very therapeutic robot, it expands and matches your breathing. Made of rubber, shaped like an egg to be carried in your arms, it feels soft and alive.
Omo is an alternative relational object. While similar to “carebots” and companion robots, Omo draws on ongoing Machine Therapy work revealing the psychological, social, and political dynamics between people and machines. As a result, Omo’s role is empathic and sometimes unexpected rather than normative. Omo breathes and senses the breathing of anyone interacting closely with it, matching—or seeking to lead—patterns of breathing. Omo does not always privilege soothing.