AsianScientist (Sep. 2, 2013) – A recent University of Auckland study has revealed a preference for humanlike features on a robot’s display screen.
As technology advances, ‘socially assistive’ robots are being developed for healthcare as helpers for older people and at medical centers, in roles such as monitoring blood pressure.
“It’s important for robot designers to know how to make robots that interact effectively with humans, so that people feel comfortable interacting with the robots,” says study leader Dr. Elizabeth Broadbent from the University’s Department of Psychological Medicine. “One key dimension is robot appearance and how humanlike the robot should be.”
The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, aimed to understand the impact of robots with screens and give developers some advice about the design of faces for screen display. Researchers tested how appearance affected people’s perceptions of the robot’s personality and mind. They also tested people’s perception of the robot’s eeriness, or the uneasy feeling or strangeness people experience when interacting with the robot.
Study participants interacted with three types of robots in a random order as it helped them use a blood-pressure cuff and measured their blood pressure. Participants then rated the robots’ mind, personality, and eeriness each time.
The majority of participants (60 percent) preferred the robot displaying the most humanlike skin-colored 3D virtual face over a robot with no face display (30 percent) and a robot with silver-colored simplified human features (10 percent). One of the measures used, the participants blood pressure reading, showed no difference between the robots face displays.
“These results suggest that the more humanlike a healthcare robot’s face display is, the more people attribute mind and positive personality characteristics to it,” says Dr Broadbent. “Designers should be aware that the face on a robot’s display screen can affect both the perceived mind and personality of the robot.”
Source: University of Auckland.
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