A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Roomba Detects Emotions Like HAL-9000
A specially-equipped Roomba robot vacuum cleaner can now sense human emotions. University of Calgary researchers published their results in a paper titled "Using Bio-electrical Signals to Influence the Social
Behaviours of Domesticated Robots."
(NIA headband helps Roomba infer stress level)
Using an OCZ NIA headband to capture bioelectric signals from the forehead of a human user, the system collects this data and then infers stress from muscle tension readings. Their control software reinterprets natural muscle tension as estimating the user's stress level; the more muscle tension, the more stress is inferred.
Two distinct robotic behaviours corresponding to two extreme
emotional states, either relaxed or stressed, are triggered when the stress reading reach a threshold. Robot actions are then influenced by these stress readings. When a person shows high stress (~levels 3 & 4), the robot enters its cleaning mode but moves away from the user so as not annoy them. When a person is relaxed (~level 1), the robot (if cleaning) approaches the person and then stops, simulating a pet sitting next to its owner. If the reading is in between these two levels, the robot continues operating in its current mode until the stress reading reaches a threshold.
The unique feature of this system is that the robot's behavior is controlled by human emotion rather than by some sort of explicit commands.
I can think of several science-fictional predecessors to this achievement. The HAL-9000 system from 2001: A Space Odyssey was able to tell whether or not the human astronauts were up to the task of making decisions by detecting the amount of stress in voice samples. Here is the famous exchange between Dave Bowman and the HAL-9000 (as found in the novel):
"Hal, switch to manual hibernation control."
"I can tell from your voice harmonics, Dave, that you're badly upset. Why don't you take a stress pill and get some rest?"
"Hal, I am in command of this ship. I order you to release the manual hibernation control."
"I'm sorry, Dave, but in accordance with special subroutine C1435-dash-4, quote, When the crew are dead or incapacitated, the onboard computer must assume control, unquote. I must, therefore, overrule your authority, since you are not in any condition to exercise it intelligently."
"Hal," said Bowman, now speaking with an icy calm. "I am not incapacitated. Unless you obey my instructions, I shall be forced to disconnect you." (Read more about HAL-9000.)
Another, even more sinister, example can be found in the use of Krell technology in the classic 1956 film Forbidden Planet. In the movie, Dr. Morbius unconsciously uses Krell machinery when sleeping.
The unthinkably powerful Krell technologies act upon his unconscious emotional cues, and destroy his enemies.
Suppose a young man of whom I do not approve comes over to take my teenage daughter out on a date. I hate to think of what a sufficiently stressed person might make a Roomba do...
From Using Bio-electrical Signals to Influence the Social
Behaviours of Domesticated Robots (pdf) via Technology Review.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/19/2009)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
MIT Headset Lets You Communicate Without Speaking
'The subvocal read nerve signals, letting her enter words by just beginning to will them...' - David Brin, 1990.
Tongue Mouse Created By Valve Engineer
'He pressed hard with his tongue against his right upper first molar.'- Alfred Bester, 1956.
Skinput Uses Your Skin As An Input Device
Nifty input technology takes advantage of your biggest organ to provide you with easy input.
AcceleGlove Open-Source Data Glove
This device was developed at great expense by your government, and now you can have one at a very reasonable price; developers use Java to program it.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Star Trek Voyager Replica Tricorder And Galaxy Quest
'They designed those controls after watching you...take her out!'
Rolls Royce Electric Airplane Breaks Records
'A white electric plane approached at great speed...'
Chang'e-5 Lunar Lander Seeks Water
'... get out the solar power apparatus and send it down to us from the air-lock by the crane.'
I Really Want A Folding Computer
'...A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled.'
A Kill Switch For Your Car?
'The car faltered as the external command came to brake...'
Scientifiction, Searchlight of Science
'And science goes on, with scientifiction as its searchlight.'
Wearable Biomedical Sensors Printed Directly On Your Skin
'The dragon is a skin computer... People put it on their arms and exchange personal data.'
Artificial, Implantable Kidney Prototype
'George Walt's corporate existence proved the workability of wholly mechanical organs...'
Ultra-short Pulse Laser Kills Bacteria In Vivo
'...coherent beams at precise wave-lengths passing through her flesh to zap foreign molecules within her body.'
Bioprint Prototype Handheld Bioprinter
'He turned the little art-derm nozzle...'
Betty Crocker, The First Company Avatar
'After six months of surgery and psycho-conditioning, he was identical with the other 496 Mr. Prestos...'
Augmented Reality Book Covers Reveal The Inner Book
'The E-paper holograms leaped from lurid covers...'
The First Multi-User Hologram Table?
Let the Wookiee win.
Apollo 8 Astronauts Pass The Equigravisphere
'... divers other objects, firearms and bottles, abandoned to themselves, held themselves up as by enchantment.'
Stellar Pizza Is A Pizza Robot That Comes To You
'No hand touched the food...'
Yamaha MOTOROiD Living Motorcycle Experiment
'He had never ridden any motorized device that lacked onboard steering and balance systems.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories