The Project on People and Robots
The goal of this project, a collaboration between roboticists, social scientists, and designers, is to conduct
design research into the design of future assistive robotic products. These products will be intelligent,
social, and able to assist us in our day-to-day needs. Interacting with them should be a non-stigmatizing,
efficient, and even sociable experience.
The designers in our group are particularly interested in how social robots should appear,
behave, and interact with people. Through ethnographic, field, and lab studies, synthesis and analysis of the data,
and iterative design, implementation, and testing of prototypes, we are developing models of human-robot interaction,
theories on the use of particular product form and behavior, and product concepts, prototypes, and research artifacts.
Particular projects include:
An ethnographic study focused on product use revealed five opportunity areas for
how robotic technology might assist elders and their caregivers: leaving a legacy, health and wellness,
controlling the environment, social and emotional support, and technology at the chairside or bedside.
The Hug, a soft, huggable robot that uses sensing technology and wireless telephony,
was designed to provide social and emotional support for elders who live at a distance from their family members.
[4MB quicktime movie]
The SenseChair provides comfort and support for elders who spend long periods of time seated in the same chair,
restoring independence and dignity to the life of someone who is nearly housebound. It motivates sitters to periodically move
from the chair to stay mobile and active, and can provide assistance ranging from ambient reminders to explicit warnings.
The chair has an ergonomic form factor and a robust, inexpensive system with near-real-time prediction of seated postures.
[4MB quicktime movie]
The Snackbot, a robot that delivers snacks in Newell Simon Hall as a means to understand long-term
human-robot interaction. We are conducting human behavior studies “off-board” to understand snacking behavior
and how the introduction of a robot might change it, form sketches and ergonomic studies, and tests of technology,
connectivity, and speech recognition feasibility.
A field study of robotic technology in the home, examining housekeeping and cleaning as a focus,
using the Roomba robotic vacuum and a Hoover stick vacuum as a control product. This work has been of
interest to both the robotics and design communities.
An ethnographic study of the Aethon Tug robot in two different units of a local hospital.
One interesting finding was that the nature of care in the differing units (a post-partum unit, with less emergencies,
and a cancer unit, with more emergencies and critical care) perceived the robot very differently.
Mutlu, B. and Forlizzi, J. (2008). Robots in Organizations: The Role of Workflow,
Social, and Environmental Factors in Human-Robot Interaction. Proceedings of HRI08.
New York, NY: ACM Press, 239-248.
[local pdf, 1.2 MB]
Forlizzi, J. (2007). How Robotic Products Become Social Products:
An Ethnographic Study of Cleaning in the Home. Proceedings of HRI07.
New York, NY: ACM Press, 129-136.
[local pdf, 2.1 MB]
Forlizzi, J., DiSalvo, C., Zimmerman, J., Mutlu, B., and Hurst, A. (2005). The SenseChair:
The lounge chair as an intelligent assistive device for elders. DUX05 Conference Proceedings, available online.
[local pdf, 1.8 MB]
Forlizzi, J., DiSalvo, C., and Gemperle, F. (2004). Assistive Robotics and an Ecology of Elders
Living Independently in Their Homes. Journal of HCI Special Issue on Human-Robot Interaction, V19 N1/2, January, 2004.
[local pdf, 5 MB]
DiSalvo, C., Gemperle, F., Forlizzi, J., and Montgomery, E. (2003). The Hug: An Exploration of Robotic Form for Intimate Communication.
Ro-Man 2003 Conference Proceedings, San Francisco, CA, October, 2003, available as CD-rom.
[local pdf, 1.6 MB]
DiSalvo, C., Gemperle, F., Forlizzi, J., and Kiesler, S. (2002). All Robots are Not Created Equal: The Design and Perception of Humanoid Robot Heads.
Designing Interactive Systems 2002 Conference Proceedings, London, England, June, 2002, 321-326.
[local pdf, 116 KB]