Posted in | News | Medical Robotics

New Handheld Social Robot to Convey Emotions While Reading Text Messages

Researchers from the University of Tsukuba have developed a handheld social robot that can convey emotions by shifting an internal weight while reading text messages, potentially improving digital interpersonal interactions.

New Handheld Social Robot to Convey Emotions While Reading Text Messages.
University of Tsukuba researchers created a robot with an internal weight that can give the impression of conveying emotions while reading text messages. Image Credit: University of Tsukuba.

A text message mediation robot has been designed by researchers from the faculty of Engineering, Information and Systems at the University of Tsukuba. These robots can help users control their anger while receiving disturbing news.

Also, this device might help enhance social interactions as the world moves towards an era of growing digital communications.

Although a quick text message apology is a simple and rapid way to convey to friends that there will be some delay in time in a planned meet-up, it is frequently missing the human element that would go with a face-to-face explanation, or even over the phone.

Recently, a handheld robot called OMOY has been devised by scientists at the University of Tsukuba. It has been fitted with a movable weight actuated by mechanical components present within its body. The robot is able to express simulated emotions by moving its internal weight.

The robot was used as a mediator for reading text messages. A text with undesirable or disappointing news could be followed by an exhortation by OMOY to help the receiver not get upset, even showing sympathy for the user.

With the medium of written digital communication, the lack of social feedback redirect focus from the sender and onto the content of the message itself.

Fumihide Tanaka, Study Author and Professor, University of Tsukuba

The making of the mediator robot was done in such a way that it could suppress the anger of the users and other negative interpersonal motivations, like thoughts of revenge, and promote forgiveness.

Over 94 people were tested by the researchers with a message stating “I’m sorry, I am late. The appointment slipped my mind. Can you wait another hour?” The team discovered that OMOY was capable of reducing 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.

Fumihide Tanaka, Study Author and Professor, University of Tsukuba

The body expression of the robot produced by weight shifts did not need any particular external components, like legs or arms. This hinted that the internal weight movements could decrease a user’s anger or other negative emotions without the use of rich facial expressions or body gestures.

This work was financially supported by Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas Grant Number 20H05553 and Grant-in-Aid for JSPS Research Fellow Grant Number 20J10887.

Journal Reference:

Noguchi, Y., et al. (2022) Weight Shift Movements of a Social Mediator Robot Make It Being Recognized as Serious and Suppress Anger, Revenge and Avoidance Motivation of the User. Frontiers in Robotics and AI.


Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this news story?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type