MoMo Isn't Exactly the New Seeing-Eye Dog, But He Sure Is Cute

Momo
Photo: AP

Yesterday and today, the technorati gathered at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts for the Interactive Telecommunications Program's famed Winter Show. Among the assorted bots and light displays was a decidedly homespun-looking creature, wrapped in a red, fuzzy sweater. MoMo, an egg-shaped, handbag-size creature made of metal and wood, is billed by its creators as a “haptic navigation device." Imbued with a sort of GPS system, moMo leans in the direction of wherever its user wishes to go, its beating heart speeding up as they get close to their destination. The kinks are still being worked out, as is its purpose — since it won’t stop you from walking directly into buildings, fountains, or the path of careening taxi, so it's not exactly the sort of thing that will help the blind. Right now, it's more like a strange companion for solo travelers. “Think of it this way: If you’re lost in the city, oftentimes someone will just point in the right direction and that’s enough to get you where you’re going,” said 28-year-old Che-Wei Wang, who created moMo with fellow student Kristin O’Friel. Knit-capped moMo certainly seemed like friendliest exhibit yesterday at Tisch, where there was also a beautiful if disorienting “Infinity Mirrored Room” and a creature called “Robbie the Racist Robot.” But it doesn't always seem so benign. "I walk around the streets with it a lot, and I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me if it’s a bomb,” said O’Friel. “So we gave it ears.” — Christine Lagorio