From Modular Robotics to Modular Playware

Engineering playful technology for health, education, and art


Henrik Hautop Lund, Ph.D.

Professor and Director

Department of Electrical and Photonics Engineering, Technical University of Denmark

Director of Center for Playware






Abstract: This presentation will include both talk and live demonstration of novel engineering playful technology. Decades of research into intelligent, playful technology and user-friendly man-machine interfaces has provided important insight into the creation of robotic systems and intelligent interactive systems which are much more user-friendly, safer and cheaper than what appeared possible merely a decade or two ago. This is significantly disrupting the industry in several market sectors. This talk describes the components of the playware and embodied artificial intelligence research that has led to disruption in the industrial robotics sector, and which points to the next disruption of the health care sector and other application areas. This includes playful robotics, LEGO robots for kids, minimal robot systems, user-friendly, behavior-based, biomimetic, modular robotics and intelligent systems. The insight into these components and the use in synthesis for designing robots and intelligent systems allows anybody, anywhere, anytime to use these systems, providing an unforeseen flexibility into the sectors, which become disrupted with these systems.

Indeed, with recent technology development, we become able to exploit robotics and modern artificial intelligence (AI) to create playware in the form of intelligent hardware and software that creates play and playful experiences for users of all ages. Such playware technology acts as a play force which inspires and motivates you to enter into a play dynamics, in which you forget about time and place, and simultaneously become highly creative and increase your skills - cognitive, physical, and social skills. The Playware ABC concept will allow you to develop life-changing solutions for anybody, anywhere, anytime through building bodies and brains to allow people to construct, combine and create.


Professor Henrik Hautop Lund, Center for Playware, Technical University of Denmark, is World Champion in RoboCup Humanoids Freestyle 2002, and has produced more than 175 scientific publications. He has developed shape-shifting modular robots, presented to the emperor of Japan, and has collaborated closely on robotics and AI with companies like LEGO, Kompan, BandaiNamco, Mizuno for the past two decades. He has developed technical skill enhancing football games and global connectivity based on modular playware for townships in South Africa for the FIFA World Cup 2010 (together with footballers Laudrup and Hoegh). Two decades of scientific studies of such playware in the form of playful robotics, LEGO robots for kids, minimal robot systems, user-friendly, behavior-based, biomimetic, modular robotics lead Prof. Lundís students to form the Universal Robots company, which disrupted the industrial robotics sector, and recently was sold for 285 million USD and has grown to one of the largest robotics company in the World with >1,000 employees. Together with international pop star and World music promoter Peter Gabriel, he has develop the MusicTiles app and MagicCubes as a music 2.0 experience to enhance music creativity amongst everybody, even people with no initial musical skills whatsoever, and used for stage performance during Peter Gabrielís tour. He has invented the patented modular interactive tiles ( for playful prevention and rehabilitation, which are implemented in large numbers amongst elderly. He is currently board member of the 20m euro Patient@Home project in Denmark Ė and partner in the EU projects Human Brain Project and REACH. In all cases, the modular playware technology approach is used in a playful way to enhance learning, creativity and activity amongst anybody, anywhere, anytime.