Getup Blocks automatically rebuilds a block tower that a child has knocked over. My one-year-old daughter Paloma loves to knock towers over (towers made of blocks, sand, anything). Sometimes I can build thirty towers in a row and never lose her attention.
Getup Blocks examines whether Paloma remains interested in knocking over towers that are not built by a person. Was her activity about interacting with the material or the person – or both? Based on about two months of observation with an early prototype, I think the social interactions are more important for her, but the machine has meaning of its own.
In its first version, Getup Blocks rises and falls very slowly in an organic and unpredictable way. The slow falling seemed especially interesting for Paloma, and she would sometimes stand on the base and wrestle with the blocks for a long time. Eventually she won these wrestiling matches and the motor burned out. This version (pictured) is more robust using clutches and stronger materials. Also, the blocks getup very slowly, but always fall fast now.
This project emerged from an Interactive Toy Design Studio I taught at the MIT Media Lab.