By Taylor Dafoe
Museums must compete harder than ever to attract attention in our smartphone-dazed world, and many are turning to technology to draw people through the door. This week, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, unveiled the latest attention-getting gadget: a four-foot-tall interactive robot named Pepper.
Motoring around several galleries across the Smithsonian complex, Pepper answers questions, tells stories, dances, and even poses for selfies. And so far it’s been a big hit.
“Whenever we put Pepper on the floor there is a continuous stream of people around it,” says Rachel Rachel Goslins, the director of the Arts and Industries building that led the development of Pepper’s program. “It attracts a crowd, from super young kids who want to hug it to older people who use it as a tool for digging deeper into the information they’re curious about.”