A Robot’s Gender Influences Learning Success

CITEC represented at international conference HRI

In Vienna, international experts meet to discuss intelligent interaction

CITEC researchers presented their findings to an international audience of specialists at the “Human Robot Interaction” (HRI) conference, held in Vienna from 6–9 March 2017. The topics of HRI change each year, and the theme of 2017’s 12th HRI conference was smart interaction.

In the project L2Tor, humanoid robot Nao helps children learn a foreign language. Photo: CITEC/Universität Bielefeld How can a robot help children learn a language? Thorsten Schodde, Dr. Kirsten Bergmann, and Professor Dr. Stefan Kopp addressed this question in their paper, and at the HRI conference, they presented their findings and reported on L2Tor, a project in which the researchers are investigating how kids learn a language in a playful way by receiving support from the humanoid robot named Nao.

Whether a robot’s “gender” plays a role for humans during their interaction with said robot is an issue being researched by Natalia Reich-Stiebert and Professor Dr. Friederike Eyssel in their paper. At the conference, Reich-Stiebert reported on their findings on how gender stereotypes can influence learning with a robot. Thus far, robots have largely been genderless. In her talk, however, Reich-Stiebert reflected about how it might be useful to design robots to have a clear gender in the future. The researchers determined that test participants had greater interested in learning with a robot if a robot with a female appearance explained typically “male” tasks, and if a robot with a male appearance explained typically “female” tasks.

Another focus of the conference was personal factors in human-robot interaction. Speaking to this point, CITEC researchers Raphaela Gehle, Timo Dankert, and Dr. Sebastian Wrede, together with Professor Dr. Karola Pitsch (University Duisburg-Essen), discussed robot-guided museum tours. They presented their research on the behavior of visitors who were both interested in viewing the museum exhibition and willing to interact with the robot guide.

The HRI conference brings together researchers from around the world to share their latest research findings. Participants discussed current theories, technological advances, and the current state of technology in human-machine interaction. The conference considers publications on all aspects of human-machine interaction, with a focus on methodology, construction, design, behavior, theory, and application, among other topics.

In 2014, the 9th HRI conference was held at the CITEC Building. The organizers of the annual HRI conference include the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the IEEE Computer Society, both located in New York (USA). The ACM was founded in 1947 as the first scientific association for computer science. The IEEE Computer Society represents the interests of working professionals and researchers in the field of information technology and is part of a worldwide professional association of engineers.

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