Mini-Surrogate is an attempt to bring lovotics to the realm of mediated interpersonal communication — in other words, providing a better channel for digital communication than Skype, or Cisco’s telepresence gear. Basically, instead of communicating through headphones and computer screens, you have a Mini-Surrogate, which is effectively a little doll/action figure of yourself. The surrogate has a speaker and microphone inside, a sensor that is similar to Kinect, and motors to move its limbs. You give your surrogate to someone — your wife, your kid, a workmate — and someone gives you their surrogate… and then you communicate through the dolls!
For example, I might keep the Mini-Surrogate of my wife on my office desk, and she might keep my doll in the kitchen or living room (or in her purse, I guess…) Her surrogate watches me in my office and replicates my movements and words back at home, and vice versa. The idea, obviously, is to close the body language and “co-presence” gaps created by the prevalence of online communication.
Now, I’ve outlined the human-to-human uses for Kissenger and Mini-Surrogate, but because these are applications of lovotics we obviously have to look at the human-robot applications. With Kissenger, for example, what if there wasn’t another human on the end? What if the robot simply used AI to return your kiss? Or what if you could kiss a character in a video game? What if Samani’s soft, human-loving robots or Meka’s anime girl had a pair of lips on the front? And why should we stop with just a pair of lips?
Mini-Surrogate could be used for similar purposes: Imagine if an AI controlled the surrogate, rather than another human. Imagine if the next iteration of The Elder Scrolls came with a Mini-Surrogate for the main female love interest in the game. Imagine being deep in a dungeon, but still being able to talk with your in-game wife who is back home, slaving over a hot forge to make you the latest Daedric armor. Again, like the Kissenger, the surrogate could have various… ports… too.
It’s worth noting that both Kissenger and Mini-Surrogate could also introduce the concept of robot-robot love. If two Kissengers have artificial psychologies and hormones, what’s to stop them from falling in love and making out until their batteries run out?