Robotics

Talking-Ally robot works to keep your attention

Talking-Ally robot works to ke...
Talking-Ally converses with a test subject, while keeping an eye on her eyes
Talking-Ally converses with a test subject, while keeping an eye on her eyes
View 1 Image
Talking-Ally converses with a test subject, while keeping an eye on her eyes
1/1
Talking-Ally converses with a test subject, while keeping an eye on her eyes

If you were talking to someone and they blatantly shifted their attention to something else, chances are you'd have something to say about it. Most interactive robots, however, wouldn't even notice. That's why scientists at Japan's Toyohashi University of Technology have developed Talking-Ally, a robot that knows when it's being ignored.

Talking-Ally tracks the gaze of humans with which it's conversing, and notices if they start staring at something other than it. It then does things such as nodding its head to catch their eye or turning its head to see what they're looking at, plus it delivers an "appropriate utterance" (presumably something like "Yoo-hoo, I'm over here") to regain their attention.

In lab tests, volunteers carried out conversations with Talking-Ally while distracting sports programs played on a TV in the background. When they watched the sports for too long, the robot was successfully able to re-engage them.

Although it currently chooses gestures and utterances from a set at random, the scientists are working on getting it to perform situation-specific behaviours based on subtle cues observed in its listener.

Ultimately, it is hoped that the research will lead to a more natural type of interaction between people and robots.

Source: Toyohashi University of Technology

1 comment
Mrossmas
Not to devalue the research, but we already have billions of people who will not stand by waiting when I turn my attention elsewhere. People are covering that base really well! A robot that doesn't get impatient sounds more useful to me. Less human-like, sure, but isn't that a good thing, kinda? Like, isn't that why we want robots to begin with?