In this blog entry, I’m going to tell you about a new text message mediation robot that can help users control their anger when receiving upsetting news. This device may help improve social interactions as we move towards a world with increasingly digital communications.
As anyone who has ever received a curt or angry text message knows, the lack of social cues can make communication difficult. When we can’t see the expression on someone’s face, it is easy to misinterpret their tone. This can lead to misunderstandings and conflict.
Now, researchers at the University of Tsukuba have built a handheld robot they called OMOY, which was equipped with a movable weight actuated by mechanical components inside its body. By shifting the internal weight, the robot could express simulated emotions. The robot was deployed as a mediator for reading text messages. A text with unwelcome or frustrating news could be followed by an exhortation by OMOY to not get upset, or even sympathy for the user.
The researchers tested 94 people with a message like ‘I’m sorry, I am late. The appointment slipped my mind. Can you wait another hour?’ The team found that OMOY was able to reduce negative emotions. The mediator robot can relay a frustrating message followed by giving its own opinion. When this speech is accompanied by the appropriate weight shifts, we saw that that the user would perceive the ‘intention’ of the robot to help them calm down,’ Professor Tanaka says.
The robot’s body expression produced by weight shifts did not require any specific external components, such as arms or legs, which implied that the internal weight movements could reduce a user’s anger or other negative emotions without the use of rich body gestures or facial expressions.
This is an exciting development because it shows that robots can not only help us communicate more effectively, but also help us manage our emotions. As we move towards a more connected, but less personal, world, devices like OMOY may become increasingly important in helping us maintain healthy social relationships.
🏆Consultor en Transformación Digital e Inteligencia Artificial desarrollando proyectos en organizaciones del Gobierno Mexicano como SAT, IMSS, CFE y en el sector privado para empresas internacionales como DHL, Santillana, citiBanamex, HSBC, Softtek y Grupo Salinas.
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