Cat toys, robotic toasters and reprimand lamps

2023 ACM/IEEE Human-Robot Interaction Conference (HRI) takes place this week in Stockholm under the motto “HRI for all”. It’s a nice theme to promote diversity and inclusion, but it’s also a good reminder that all robots have (or should) have thought about how they interact with humans. HRI is not just for social robots. Even the most industrial industrial robots, producing things without light, which will never see a human being at work, unless something is very, very wrong (or is about to happen), must still be configured and programmed by a human. And these people are happiest when engineers remember that they exist.

In any case, there will be a lot of interesting research presented at HRI (materials are already available online). Here), but first we’ll take a look at the annual HRI Student Design Competitionwhich is always creative and fun.

The theme of this year’s Student Design Competition is Accessible Robots. Student teams are encouraged to create and describe a scenario with robots/agents that are affordable and have real value in society. In particular, we are looking for affordable, efficient, scalable, and reliable use cases with real-world potential. Since the theme of this year’s conference is “HRI for All”, we also encourage students to think about inclusion and diversity in HRI in terms of geographic integration (for both developed and developing countries), gender inclusion, ethnic inclusion, disability, equity. etc. related to this topic.

This combination of “accessibility” and “real utility” is especially difficult because robots are inherently not accessible at all, and utility (in terms of functionality that justifies their cost) is an unattainable goal, which is why exactly the problem you want students to solve . There will be 20 entries this year and we can only share a few of them, but here are five that we found particularly interesting.

Aimoji: An affordable interactive kit that turns used toys into companion robots.

When a child wants to talk to a toy, it is usually a one-way interaction where the child imagines the toy’s reaction. Our design allows each toy to have two-way interaction with our low cost interaction kit. The reaction of the toy is based on a motion sensor that causes the toy to react to the child through a screen attached to the toy. With this method, every child can experience human-robot interaction in an accessible way. There can be as many robots as there are toys.

Toubot: A pair of wearable tactile robots that emotionally connect abandoned children and their parents.

Children who stay at home have more mental problems than their urban peers because they have fewer instant emotional interactions with their parents. To solve this problem, we offer a pair of wearable soft robots that will strengthen their emotional connection by enhancing instantaneous non-verbal interactions.

Internet of cat robot toys to deepen bonding and lift your spirits

Pets provide important psychological support to humans. Recent advances in robotics and HRI have led to research and commercial products offering intelligent solutions to improve the lives of pets. However, most of these products are focused on meeting the basic needs of pets, such as feeding and littering, rather than their mental well-being. In this article, we present the Internet of Cat Robot Toys, where a group of agent robots connect to play with our furry friends. Over three iterations, we are demonstrating an accessible and flexible design of clip-on agent robots to transform a static household into an interactive pet wonderland.

Labo is watching you: the robot that coaxes you into interrupting your smartphone

Endogenous smartphone outages have affected people’s daily lives in many ways, especially in lamp-lit study and work areas. To mitigate this, we’re making a robot that can convince you by complementing the lamp on your desk with certain poses and lights.

Bot toaster: design for convenience and pleasure in the kitchen

Toasting bread is a seemingly mundane task that people perform on a daily basis, whether in a private kitchen or in a communal dining room. This article introduces a toaster robot, or “toaster bot”, which is designed with animated motions to enhance the toasting process by not only assisting in the task itself, but also acting as a playable entity that users can interact with.

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