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Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Human-Robot Interactions

In interface class today, Jodi Forlizzi gave a lecture on the design issues surrounding robots. ("Danger, Will Robinson!")

In the first place, it helps not to think of them as robots. That word, as I just illustrated, has a lot of baggage and can be intimidating. It's even best, when talking to users, to not even use the word "robot." It is better instead to think of the entire system that the robot will be a part of and design for that. A robot is more than an artifact: it is a product and a service. What constitutes a robot is actually pretty broadly defined.

Two spectrums that must be considered when designing robot interactions are autonomy and social interaction. Autonomy is the robot's ability to act on the user's behalf. One one end (little autonomy) are robots like Furby. At the other end (full autonomy) are things like pacemakers and artificial hearts. In between are everything from appliances to smart cars to avatars. On the social interaction scale, one one end are things like Furby who have very little reciprocal interaction. On the high end, currently there is very little. In between are things like avatars that can respond to humans in a social manner. One important note is that emotional relations with our robots happen all along the social scale, although they are probably much deeper the more social they are.

Three other main design issues with robots:

  • Form. Does it have a human-like appearance? How big is it? What are its physical characteristics like size, shape, scale, and the materials it will be made of.
  • Function. How will the robot communicate and express? Will it use sound, motion, gesture, light, color, or even scent?
  • Manner of behavior. How does the robot behave and in what situations? What is the nature of the interactions?

posted at 10:58 PM in design 101 | comments (0) | trackback (0)


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