The 2023 ACM/IEEE Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) conference is taking place this week in Stockholm with the theme “HRI for all”. It’s a good theme to promote diversity and inclusion, but it’s also a good reminder that all robots have (or should have) certain ideas about how they interact with humans. HRI is not only for social robots – even the most industrial industrial robots producing things without light that may never see a person at work, unless something happens (or is about to happen) very, very bad, anyway must be tuned and programmed by a human, and these people are happy when the engineers remember that they exist.

In any case, HRI will feature a lot of interesting research (materials are already available online here), but first we’ll take a look at the annual HRI Student Project Competition, which is always creative and fun.

The theme of this year’s Student Design Competition is Accessible Robots. Teams of students are asked to create and describe a scenario with robots/agents that are affordable and have real value in society. In particular, we are looking for affordable, efficient, scalable and reliable use cases with real application potential. Since the theme of this year’s conference is “HRI for All”, we also encourage students to think about inclusion and diversity in HRI in terms of geographic integration (for both developed and developing countries), gender inclusion, ethnic inclusion, disability, equity. etc. related to this topic.

This combination of “accessibility” and “real utility” is especially difficult because robots are inherently not accessible at all, and utility (in terms of functionality that justifies their cost) is an unattainable goal, which is why exactly the problem you want students to solve . There will be 20 entries this year and we can only share a few of them, but here are five that we found particularly interesting.

Aimoji is an affordable interaction kit that recycles a used toy as a companion robot

When a child wants to talk to a toy, it is usually a one-way interaction with the child representing the reaction of the toy. Our design allows each toy to have two-way interaction with our low cost interaction kit. The reaction of the toy is based on a motion sensor that causes the toy to react to the child through a screen attached to the toy. With this method, every child can experience human-robot interaction in an accessible way. There can be as many robots as there are toys.

Toubot: a pair of wearable tactile robots that emotionally connect children and their parents

Children who stay at home have more mental problems than their urban peers because they have fewer instant emotional interactions with their parents. To solve this problem, we offer a pair of wearable soft robots that strengthen their emotional connection by enhancing instantaneous non-verbal interactions.

The Internet of Cat Robot Toys Will Strengthen Bonding and Cheer Up

Pets provide important psychological support to humans. Recent advances in robotics and HRI have led to research and commercial products offering intelligent solutions to improve the lives of pets. However, most of these products are focused on meeting the basic needs of pets, such as feeding and littering, rather than their mental well-being. In this article, we present the Internet of Cat Robot Toys, where a group of agent robots connect to play with our furry friends. Over three iterations, we are demonstrating an accessible and flexible design of clip-on agent robots to transform a static household into an interactive pet wonderland.

Labo is watching you: a robot that persuades you not to be distracted from your smartphone

Endogenous interruptions in the use of smartphones have affected the daily life of people in many aspects, especially in studying and working under the light of a lamp. To mitigate this, we are making a robot that can convince you by complementing the lamp on your desk with a certain pose and light.

Toaster Bot: design for convenience and pleasure in the kitchen space

Toasting bread is a seemingly mundane task that people perform on a daily basis, whether in a private kitchen or in a communal dining room. This article introduces a toaster robot, or “toaster bot”, which is designed with animated motions to enhance the toasting process by not only assisting in the task itself, but also acting as a playable entity that users can interact with.