Simone Giertz, The Patron Saint Of Bad Robots

Simone Giertz makes terrible robots, and they are really, really good at what they can’t do.

They can’t wake you up properly (though they do wake you up), they can’t brush your teeth properly, they can’t feed you breakfast properly, and as the image above suggests, they can’t even apply lipstick properly.

They just can’t.

What they can do, and have done, is turn their inventor into a one-of-a-kind internet sensation. From being an unknown YouTuber with limited viewership, Simone has gone on to become the patron saint of “dorky, stupid robots,” notching up millions of views for her stupider-than-the-last-one videos.

If you haven’t already had the pleasure of meeting one of these “s***ty” robots, take a look at this just-released video, a “TV commercial” for a clapping robot Simone invented last month.

Simone is a 25-year-old from Stockholm, Sweden. She has described herself in a variety of ways.

As per this CNN piece, she is a “creative technologist.” On her YouTube channel, she is a maker/robotics enthusiast/non-engineer. On her Facebook page, she is an inventor, YouTuber, and entertainer (though she also likes “inventortainer”, a term coined for her by someone on Reddit). As she says in a highly entertaining podcast interview to embedded.fm, she changes her titles like socks: every two weeks. (Yes, two weeks!)

Before entering the world of clueless robots, Simone used to work for a U.S. company called Punch Through, designing devices for them (before that she was a sports journalist interviewing MMA fighters, as per this interview in Smarter Together). Working with the engineers at Punch Through, she taught herself a lot of things that later became the basis of her own wild foray into DIY robotics.

One of her favorite components in robotics is something called Arduino, a microcontroller that helps build digital devices that can “sense and control the physical world.” Simone’s robots do this sensing and controlling in a deliberately wretched way, resulting in utter chaos. See a demonstration in one of her most popular invention videos.

If you want to head straight to the machine demo, jump to 3:17 in the following video.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise at this point that Simone Giertz doesn’t live on land, she lives on the water in a houseboat. This houseboat is her own, different from her mother’s houseboat, which is an altogether separate vehicle.

Simone has already conclusively demolished any romantic notions people may have about living on houseboats. Take a look at this to understand how exactly she did that.

Simone is often asked a question funny people doing funny things are inevitably asked: Why?

It’s a loaded question, and this need to question funniness perhaps tells more about the questioner than the subject themselves. A certain type of sense of humour, especially the rare, outrageous kind like Simone’s, may not be easy for a lot of analytical people to process.

Funny people usually become defensive trying to “explain” the reason for doing what they do. Which is understandable. How do you explain silliness and stupidity that is indistinguishable from magic?

There are moments in the hilarious embedded.fm interview when Simone seems to be thick inside this “explain your humour” territory, almost as if she were lying on a psychoanalyst’s couch, trying to rationalise her chosen vocation. She handles the tricky questions pretty well under the circumstances. This is what she had to say when asked about the “subtext” of her videos.

“A lot of people just write off the projects that I do as stupid, but they obviously aren’t, the ideas aren’t the smartest but I think there definitely is a lot of thought behind it.”

In all the excitement over her bad robot videos, one fact may slip past unnoticed: Simone is a natural-born actress.

In many of her non-robot short films, you can see her playing all the characters herself and doing it with the ease and confidence of a professional. One can easily imagine a web series or a TV show or a movie based around her without necessarily involving robots.

Let’s end this on a hygienic note. Here’s a Simone Giertz invention you can actually interact with in real time: the Screenshaver.

[Image via YouTube/Simone Giertz]