Most human interactions with robots come from behind a screen. Whether it's
fiction or a real-life interaction, rarely are we put face to face with a robot.
This poses a significant barrier when we look towards a future where robots will
be part of our everyday lives. How do we break down this barrier? A recent study
by researchers at the University of Koblenz-Landau, University of Wurzburg, and
Arts Electronica Futurelab, found that people who watched live interactions with
a robot were more likely to consider the robot to have more human-like
Constanze Schreiner (University of Koblenz-Landau), Martina Mara (Ars
Electronica Futuerlab), and Markus Appel (University of Wurzburg) will present
their findings at the 67th Annual Conference of the International Communication
Association in San Diego, CA. Using a Roboy robot, participants observed one of
three experimental human robot interactons (HRI); either in real life, in
virtual reality (VR) on a 3D screen, or on a 2D screen. The scripted HRI between
Roboy and the human technician was 4:25 minutes long. During that time,
participants saw Roboy assisting the human in organizing appointments,
conducting web searches and finding a birthday present for his mom.
The data analyzed revealed that observing a live interaction or
alternatively encountering the robot in a VR lead to more perceived realness.
Furthermore, the kind of presentation influenced perceived human-likeness.
Participants who observed a real HRI reported the highest perceived
human-likeness. Particularly interesting is that participants who were
introduced to Roboy in VR perceived the robot as less human-like than
participants who watched a live HRI, whereas these two groups did not
differentiate in regard of perceived realness.
Usually, experimental studies interested in HRI and participants'
evaluations of humanoid service robots -- due to limited resources -- need to
fall back on video stimuli. This is the first study using participants'
evaluations of a humanoid service robot when observed either on a 2D video, in
3D virtual reality, or in real life.
"Many people will have their first encounter with a service robot over the
next decade. Service robots are designed to communicate with humans in humanlike
ways and assist them in various aspects of their daily routine. Potential areas
of application range from hospitals and nursing homes to hotels and the users'
households," said Schreiner. "To date, however, most people still only know such
robots from the Internet or TV and are still skeptical about the idea of sharing
their personal lives with robots, especially when it comes to machines of highly