Interacting With Robots & Agents

Case Study, Paper & ToCHI

May 7, 2012 @ 16:30, Room: 16AB

Chair: Antonello De Angeli, University of Trento, Italy
The Role of Gender on Effectiveness and Efficiency of User-Robot Communication in Navigation Tasks - ToCHI
Contribution & Benefit: Describes gender differences in spatial communication and navigation in Human-Robot Interaction. Presents a novel methodology and design recommendations for dialogue and navigating systems that equally support users of both genders.
Abstract » Many studies have identified gender differences in communication related to spatial navigation in real and virtual worlds. Most of this research has focused on single-party communication (monologues), such as the way in which individuals either give or follow route instructions. However, very little work has been reported on spatial navigation dialogues and whether there are gender differences in the way that they are conducted. This paper will address the lack of research evidence by exploring the dialogues between partners of the same and of different gender in a simulated Human-Robot Interaction study. In the experiments discussed in this paper, pairs of participants communicated remotely; in each pair, one participant (the instructor) was under the impression that s/he was giving route instructions to a robot (the follower), avoiding any perception of gendered communication. To ensure the naturalness of the interaction, the followers were given no guidelines on what to say, however each had to control a robot based on the user’s instructions. While many monologue-based studies suggest male superiority in a multitude of spatial activities and domains, this study of dialogues highlights a more complex pattern of results. As anticipated, gender influences task performance and communication. However, the findings suggest that it is the interaction – the combination of gender and role (i.e., instructor or follower) – that has the most significant impact. In particular, pairs of female users/instructors and male ‘robots’/followers are associated with the fastest and most accurate completion of the navigation tasks. Moreover, dialogue-based analysis illustrates how pairs of male users/instructors and female ‘robots’/followers achieved successful communication through ‘alignment’ of spatial descriptions. In particular, males seem to adapt the content of their instructions when interacting with female ‘robots’/followers and employ more landmark references compared to female users/instructors or when addressing males (in male-male pairings). This study describes the differences in how males and females interact with the system, and proposes that any female ‘disadvantage’ in spatial communication can disappear through interactive mechanisms. Such insights are important for the design of navigation systems that are equally effective for users of either gender.
Ripple Effects of an Embedded Social Agent: A Field Study of a Social Robot in the Workplace - Paper
Contribution & Benefit: Describe a long-term field study of a social delivery robot in a workplace. Can assist the development of agents, avatars, and robots for individuals and organizations.
Abstract » Prior research has investigated the effect of interactive social agents presented on computer screens or embodied in robots. Much of this research has been pursued in labs and brief field studies. Comparatively little is known about social agents embedded in the workplace, where employees have repeated interactions with the agent, alone and with others. We designed a social robot snack delivery service for a workplace, and evaluated the service over four months allowing each employee to use it for two months. We report on how employees responded to the robot and the service over repeated encounters. Employees attached different social roles to the robot beyond a delivery person as they incorporated the robot's visit into their workplace routines. Beyond one-on-one interaction, the robot created a ripple effect in the workplace, triggering new behaviors among employees, including politeness, protection of the robot, mimicry, social comparison, and even jealousy. We discuss the implications of these ripple effects for designing services incorporating social agents.
Designing Effective Gaze Mechanisms for Virtual Agents - Paper
Contribution & Benefit: A model for designing effective gaze mechanisms for virtual agents and its evaluation. The model will allow designers to create gaze behaviors that accomplish specific high-level outcomes.
Abstract » Virtual agents hold great promise in human-computer interaction with their ability to afford embodied interaction using nonverbal human communicative cues. Gaze cues are particularly important to achieve significant high-level outcomes such as improved learning and feelings of rapport. Our goal is to explore how agents might achieve such outcomes through seemingly subtle changes in gaze behavior and what design variables for gaze might lead to such positive outcomes. Drawing on research in human physiology, we developed a model of gaze behavior to capture these key design variables. In a user study, we investigated how manipulations in these variables might improve affiliation with the agent and learning. The results showed that an agent using affiliative gaze elicited more positive feelings of connection, while an agent using referential gaze improved participants' learning. Our model and findings offer guidelines for the design of effective gaze behaviors for virtual agents.
How Does Telenoid Affect the Communication between Children in Classroom Setting? - Long Case Study
Contribution & Benefit: Describes the qualitative findings of a field study that revealed the effects of a tele-operated humanoid robot on facilitating schoolchildren’s cooperation. Can assist in designing effective tele-communication tools in education.
Abstract » It needs to be investigated how humanoid robots may affect people in the real world when they are employed to express the presence, a feel of being there, in tele-communication. We brought Telenoid, a tele-operated humanoid robot, into a classroom at an elementary school to see how schoolchildren respond to it. Our study is exploratory and we focused on the social aspects that might facilitate communication between schoolchildren. We found that Telenoid affected the way children work as group. They participated in the group work more positively, became more spontaneous, and differentiated their roles. We observed that Telenoid's limited capability led them to change their attitudes so that they could work together. The result suggests that the limited functionality may facilitate cooperation among participants in classroom setting.