Sr. Manager, Creative / Lead UX Designer


For a year and a half, I led Anki's User Experience/Human-Robot Interaction work. We designed and refined the Vector product, continued feature work on Cozmo, and planned for future unreleased products.

I managed 15 creative staff members across multiple tiers: 3 User Experience Designers, 1 Technical Product Designer, 3 Sound Designers, and 8 Animators. At the same time, I directed Anki's User Experience work on Vector and Cozmo. 

During this period, we developed and delivered Vector on an extraordinarily aggressive schedule, refined Vector's functions and performance, achieved unprecedented growth in the Cozmo product, and crafted strong foundations for future developments in the fields of Home Robotics and Human Robot Interactions. 

Product Overview

This video provides an overview of the Anki products I had a direct hand in designing between 2017 and 2019.

Our Goal

Anki, a home robotics company, was dedicated to providing real, useful, and compelling experiences with in-home robots. Our products used personality and character to interact with people in completely new and groundbreaking ways. 

Key to this effort was creating interactions that felt emotionally resonant, that incorporated not just commands and responses, but emotional communication - robots that feel a little more human. 

Due to the many challenges and pitfalls of producing hardware and software at the required scale, and given contemporary market conditions, Anki closed its doors in May 2019.

Challenge: Design interactions for a new generation of personable, friendly home robots

A key difference between Vector and Cozmo (Anki's earlier educational toy robot for kids) was that Vector was designed to hear and respond to voices.

Four directional microphones on Vector's head allowed him to discern human speech. With the help of the Cloud, he was able to interpret that speech into specific requests and commands.

Pivot: From Cozmo 2.0 to a Brand New Product

Vector was initially conceived as a direct follow-on to Cozmo, Anki's award-winning educational robot for kids. 

Shortly before I was hired, it was determined that we would instead create a new product line with Vector, aimed at 'tech immersives'. Based on that decision, we began designing with more sophistication and less kids' entertainment and education in mind.

Early Persona - Tech Immersive User

An early step was creation of internal Personas, to help us to envision the kinds of users for whom we were developing.

Outlining Structure for the Application

For Vector's companion app, a key early step was to lay out the structure and determine what sorts of goals user should be able to achieve within the app. I reviewed strategic goals and specs for the robot and constructed a flexible architecture to highlight Vector’s new options and capabilities. 

This architecture formed a solid foundation for the application's structure and supported all necessary robot interactions through product launch. 

Product Requirement Documents

Product Requirement Documents were written by various stakeholders.

I personally wrote requirements for many features that were systematic and described broad overall functionality.  

Documenting Human-Robot Interactions

During my work at Anki, I revised our documentation for robot interactions. I formalized how interactions were noted, and chose a format that was easy to use, easy to edit, and served well as a comprehensive record and plan for behaviors.

The content highlighted three key areas of a given design: The app's onscreen display, the user's actions, and the robot's behavior.

Tracking all three of these factors leads to an almost theatrical understanding of where the user's attention should be focused at any given time, whether on the robot, the application's controls, or (occasionally) on some other factor. 

Wireframe Development

My staff and I created numerous wireframes for companion app screens such as Settings. 

Motion Design Prototypes

We created prototype motion graphics (using Flinto, Principle and other tools) to test ideas and provide models and guidelines for developers. 


I helped iterate on Anki's workflows and process for creative work, helping to determine what deliverables should be created when, and the gates which would return them for iteration or allow them to proceed into production. 

Data Visualization for Users

One of the challenges of marketing and selling a sophisticated robot to the public is that so much of the beautiful complexity of the product exists under the surface. A product that 'just works' hides some of the amazing technical accomplishment that enables its function. 

To that end, I proposed that we add a visualization of the robot's inner workings to Vector's companion app.

Data Visualization as Sensory Feed

This data visualization effort ultimately became the 'Sensory Feed' delivered on the home screen of the final Vector Companion App. 

Spontanaeity and Emergence of Behaviors

One of the most fascinating things that can occur when developing a sophisticated autonomous system is the appearance of spontaneous and unexpected behaviors. We found that once we had given Vector a desire to be petted on the touch pad on his back, he found additional ways to pet himself, without human intervention.

In this video, Vector snuggles himself under a laptop stand as a substitute for human touch, and happily lets it 'pet' him. This was one of a few behaviors that emerged without designers' explicit intent, and was a delightful example of how robots blur the lines between machines and living beings.