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 (Back On) ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
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.
Roomba Detects Emotions Like HAL-9000
Just wait until this device is used to control more powerful technology. Let sleeping Krell lie, I say.
CirculaFloor 'Stair Stepper' Smart Tile Video
Like walking across a stream on stepping stones, the CirculaFloor is a poor man's holodeck. And now, you can walk uphill. With video.
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.
MIT Robot Cheetah Video Shows Gait Transition
'The legs are long, curled way up to deliver power, like a cheetah's.'
TrackingPoint Smart Rifle
Not your typical 'smart bullet' approach.
'Hello, Computer!' Google Now Highlighted at IO13
Sky City's 220 Stories Are Go
'It rested among green parklands and... stood in total isolation, a glittering block of whites and flashing windows dotted with colors.'
CARMAT Bioprosthetic Total Human Heart Replacement
'George Walt's corporate existence proved the workability of wholly mechanical organs...'
Personal Sniffer Robots
'...The ticking combinations of the olfactory system of the hound.'
Physical Exam? We've Got Apps
See the future of handheld, personal medical devices.
The Interplanetary Internet, Vint Cerf Speaking
'This was the center of Interplanetary Communications.'
Drosophila Robotica, The Mechanical Fly
'... the Scarab [flying robot] buzzed into the great workroom as any intruding insect might...'
Robo-Raven Flapping Wing Robot Bird
'When he had first built them, they had been crude indeed, flying mechanisms with little more than a reflex-response unit.'
Japan's Nursing Home Robot Plan
Let's make the Roujin Z-0001 Robotic Bed!
Samsung Smart TVs With Gesture Control
'He waved his hand and the circuit switched abruptly.'
Swiss HCPVT Giant Photovoltaic 'Flower'
'...leaning against one of the slender stalks of a sunshade-photocell collector.'
Mini-Livers Made By 3D Printer
Organleggers may experience an employment downturn.
Smartphone Sensor System Tracks Gunfire
'Sound trackers on the roof could zero in on weapons action...'
Bacteria Now Make Biofuel Like Oil
'They have ... germs that eat pretty near anything, and produce oil as a waste product.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories