Workshop, poster, award! Human-Robot Interaction 2017

Oops, this post took a bit longer to actually get posted, with my PhD defence closing in and attempts at getting a video ready on Snoozle, our robotic pillow.

Anyway, this is a short retrospect on this year’s conference on Human-Robot Interaction in Vienna. I was happy to be immersed in this community by helping out with a full-day workshop on Child-Robot Interaction on the first day, presenting my poster on R3D3 the following days, and presenting joint work on Snoozle, a robotic pillow that helps you go to sleep.

First off, I can say that the 3rd workshop on Child-Robot Interaction was a great success, thanks to the efforts of Cristina Zaga, Bob Schadenberg and Vicky Charisi (I was tasked with helping them out during the day). Plenty of visitors (44), more than expected! At the end of the day, the breakout session also resulted in lively discussions on the future of the field of child-robot interaction, especially concerning education.

The conference proper started the following day and, right from the start, my poster on R3D3 had a nice place in the poster hall, among 141 other posters. Plenty to see, but luckily I still got to talk to multiple people interested in the various facets of R3D3: the open-source speech recognition we develop at HMI, the computer vision, the dialogue modelling and the robot and virtual human behaviour. The short paper can be found here.

On the second day of the conference, we demonstrated Snoozle, the pillow that assists people in going to sleep. This is a joint work by Jered Vroon, Cristina Zaga, Jan Kolkmeier, Daniel Davison, and me, which we carried out over the course of the months running up to HRI 2017. Words can only tell so much, so the video below may sketch a clearer image.

The final day of the conference, we were happily surprised to be called to the front of the main conference room as we had won the HRI 2017 Delegates’ Choice Award (in other words, the public vote) in the Student Design Competition!
…I think it’s time for a Version 2.0 of Snoozle, soon! In the meantime, see the short paper here.

As for the conference itself: a great variety in talks, ranging from social robots to optimized control behaviours for robotic arms. One highlight for me was a wonderful keynote by Lucia Jacobs, professor in evolutionary biology, on the evolution of the human nose and how this relates to robot design. To make a long story short: appearance is important; it serves a function, even if the designer is not completely aware of it. Therefore, we should carefully consider why we make robots look the way they do.

All in all, a very enjoyable time in the viewtiful city of Vienna, especially with my colleagues at HMI.