the oval is a beautiful form and sized right, it's easy for the hand to hold. this study is in black mdf and the sides are tapered slightly inward to improve grip. each person grabbed it like a remote control. weird, but predictable. what if it was made of clear glass or soft fabric...what if it was thinner or fatter...what then? how does form communicate function any more? next time, take a look at a home device that you are supposed to talk to...what's guiding you except the advertising about how to use? how do you know that you can have a conversation with the thing? now, take a look a JIBO (click on the name). jibo is still far off and beyond delayed in getting to the market, but i give the team props. In their effort to create humanistic references without a completely anthropomorphic impersonation of a human being, they've offered one amiable view for our assistive objects.
robots are here to stay. they will grow in the image we create. i see many designers struggle with these reference points. i would do not better.