Swedish-born, San Francisco-based YouTuber Simone Giertz has earned a reputation as the “queen of shitty robots.” Her popular channel, Simone’s Robots, which she launched in 2013, brims with videos of her deadpan, slapstick approach to semi-functional household robots. While the charming inaccuracy of how each whacky invention attempts to complete its task—applying lipstick, making a bowl of cereal, or washing her hair—might seem an effort for machine-like perfection, Giertz’s comedic fails are all part of the punchline and her online appeal.
Despite the calculated craftiness behind her haphazard robots, much of Giertz’s fan base—numbering 876,000 and counting—offers her messages of support, seeming to believe she is trying to make good robots but repeatedly failing. “Some people are really sweet about it, saying, ‘Hang in there, Simone, you’ll get there soon!’,” Giertz says, laughing. “But, it’s definitely intentional.”
Giertz’s lipstick applier is a good example of her offbeat approach. “I had a robot arm, and I have it do my makeup,” she says. “I settled on lipstick because I realized there was no way I would let it near my eyes. I think I did ten different takes before I felt like it applied the lipstick in an adequate way.” Although crudely, the robot technically does do its job, smudging Giertz’s lips with wild inaccuracy while she nonchalantly reads an iPad.
After briefly studying engineering physics and taking courses in digital technology at Hyper Island, a creative business school specializing in real-world training, Giertz worked a series of odd gigs—editor for Sweden’s official website, a mixed martial arts reporter, and an English teacher in China—before getting into robotics and landing a maker-in-residence job with Punch Through Design in San Francisco, where she was paid to find fun and engaging ways to use their electronic products.
This past summer, Giertz was back in Sweden for her latest venture: TV. She finds the transition from YouTube to television less natural than people might think. “You realize that you can make it so much bigger and have much more creative control if you just stay on the Internet,” says Giertz. “But I’m trying it.”
It’s clear Giertz loves giving things a try. From building robots to signing up for astronaut training, she enjoys making her endless ideas come to life—and entertaining people along the way. “People kind of come for the comedy and the shittiness of the robots,” says Giertz. “But then they learn something along the way or get inspired to build their own things.”