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Virtual Holiday Dinner Brings Families Together via Robot Proxies

Sometimes, it's just not possible to get your whole family together for the holidays. So why not bring  avatars of family members together instead? Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam put together a clever recognition app that allows Skype callers to control custom-built mechanical dolls with head movements.

The ad agency placed five of its mechanical dolls around a table, and for three days this past month, visitors to the Virtual Holiday Dinner website could reserve 15 minute slots to sit around the table with friends and family. In total, Wieden+Kennedy rounded up 156 people from six continents to participate.

The dinner was an undeniable success (and a brand-booster for Wieden+Kennedy), but it doesn't mean that we're ready to relinquish holiday celebrations to our avatars. Robot proxies can be useful in office situations, as we have mentioned before—but the idea of hugging a robot version of Aunt Joanne at the family party is still a little off-putting.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.