Handshake is an interactive robotic installation by the artist group AATB that addresses the question of digital intimacy.

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AATB handshake 07 min


As the COVID-19 pandemic has escalated, the potential role of robotics has been becoming increasingly clear. Robots are gaining importance in creating new forms of interaction in times of physical distancing and managing this public health crisis. They bear the potential to be deployed for disinfection, delivering medications and food, measuring vital signs, and assisting border controls. But can they help us overcome the perhaps biggest challenge of living in isolation and over physical distance: missing the human touch?

AATB Handshake Structure
First mockup
AATB Handshake Process

Handshake is an interactive robotic installation by the collaborative design practice AATB that addresses this question from an artistic perspective. In times of physical distancing, when touching becomes impossible, Handshake is a platform on which strangers can interact with each other, virtually but also physically. Shake hands with us and share some digital intimacy through this unique online experience.

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AATB handshake 01
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Handshake consists of two robotic arms, each equipped with an over-sized hand. They are facing each other and moving together, as they are following the directions of visitors of the Museum für Gestaltung. The visitors in the exhibition can remotely control the robots and thus the hands. The physical installation itself is placed in different locations of the University of Zürich during the exhibition. The project not only invites people to interact – it’s also a handshake between science and design.

Collaborators Handshake

AATB (Andrea Anner and Thibault Brevet)

Handshake was initiated by swissnex Boston and AATB, in close collaboration with the Consulate General of Switzerland in New York, the Swiss Federal Office of Culture, and swissnex San Francisco. It was made possible by the generous support of the global swissnex network and Présence Suisse.

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