There is an increasing demand and dependency on technology to perform a wide range of tasks in todays society. Take for example, the healthcare sector where labour shortages loom and the aging population is on the rise. Or working parents with children, for whom a highly advanced baby monitor would be a great find. Intelligent technology can also offer alternative solutions for the elderly who would prefer to remain living at home for longer. Evers predicts that in twenty-five years humans and robots will be coexisting in a hybrid society. This means that robots which until now have been used primarily in factories will soon be used in homes, offices and public spaces. These human environments have been built and designed for our physiology. Robots must therefore begin to take on more sophisticated human qualities in order to be able to function in this environment. The technology is currently under development. In the meantime, however, Evers is keen to examine the best design solutions for this new technology. How should a robot behave in order to be accepted by humans? Evers research group will analyse questions such as: How should virtual humans and robots interact with us? Does an intelligent system behave in a way that humans find useful and fun? The group is also examining the human state by analyzing faces, gestures, voice and text.
The purpose of this research is to develop robots that meet the social, emotional and psychological needs of humans. This, according to Evers, will require a number of scientific breakthroughs. "In America they say 'it takes a village to raise a child'. The same principle applies to a robot. An enormous level of cooperation is required to create a social robot." A social robot must have the capacity to interpret the social environment of humans. It must be able to determine a humans emotional state by analyzing facial expressions, mood and stress levels. Robots must also be capable of recognizing and interpreting body language, gestures and social situations. This is the objective of HMIs first line of research, to observe how robots and other intelligent systems perceive human behaviour, such as heartbeats, breathing, gestures, facial expression, and sleep patterns. The second line of research examines how an ongoing dialogue can occur between robots and humans. The question here is how to tailor the robots dialogue to human behaviour. In other words, how to engineer that the robot responds to human behaviour based on its interpretations and observations. And finally, the third line of research is one of analysis and evaluation. How does dialogue with a robot based on these observations change our trust in intelligent systems? These three lines of research form a continuous cycle.
Provided by University of Twente
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