Philips has created a robot that can make faces — and gauge the reactions these expressions inspire. Called the iCat, they hope it spurs research in how people will interact with robots:
iCat is a research platform for studying human-robot interaction topics. The robot is 38 cm tall and is equipped with 13 servos that control different parts of the face, such as the eyebrows, eyes, eyelids, mouth and head position. With this setup iCat can generate many different facial expressions – happy, surprise, angry, sad – that are needed to create social human-robot interaction dialogues. …
During some of our studies we investigated the perceived personality of the iCat by letting users interact with the iCat during a game setting (TicTacToe) or task setting (programming a VCR). These studies show measurable differences in effectiveness and enjoyability of the tasks the users had to perform, depending on iCat’s personality.
We’re predicting this could have applications in medicine, down the road, with autistic children or stroke victims. But one wonders why the cat was chosen: is there a more impenetrable visage in the animal kingdom? When you unwrap a new iCat, is the default expression one of contempt?
More from Philips.
(hat tip: Engadget)