ALIZ-E project

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Children's perception of a Robotic Companion in a mildly constrained setting.

Research Area: Uncategorized Year: 2011
Type of Publication: In Proceedings
  • Marco Nalin
  • Linda Bergamini
  • Alessio Giusti
  • Ilaria Baroni
  • Alberto Sanna
Book title: IEEE/ACM Human-Robot Interaction 2011 Conference (Robots with Children Workshop)
This paper presents the results of a study, conducted by Scientific Institute San Raffaele in Milan, involving 35 children in between 8 and 11 years old. The purpose of this study was to assess the children's perception of a robotic companion. The interaction was organized in small groups (3-4 children per session), for a quite short duration (15min), and was structured in form of game, where the children had to discover how to activate all the robot's \capabilities" (four in total, one of which including physical contact with the robot). The robot was controlled through a Wizard of Oz interface, thanks to which an operator was able to activate the specific behaviors. The study demonstrated that all the kids accept favorably the presence of the robot, and that they are willing to spend more time with it. Furthermore the study indicated that children have the tendency to humanize the robot, assigning it functions, behaviors and emotions that are typical of human beings. Another interesting result is that all the children claimed (through a proper questionnaire) that the robot could be able to support them, in case they were feeling down or worried about something.

Random Research Highlight

ALIZ-E set the standard for experimental protocols for Child-Robot Interaction experiments. Human-based real world evaluations are challenging and caution needs to be taken as evaluation metrics which work for adult participants often do not carry over to children. Over the 4 and a half year duration of the project we have gained vital insights into the considerations required when conducting Child-Robot Interaction research in real-world, applied settings such as hospitals and school classrooms. Not only are there technical considerations (such as introducing new robotic technologies into a hospital environment), but the fact that ALIZ-E is dealing with children who are also actual patients in a real hospital or pupils in a classroom requires that their data be handled with great care and they as individuals are note adversely affected by partaking in the research.