I'm in Aland, Finland, at the moment taking part in the 2nd Summer School on Social Human-Robot Interaction (the first one took place in Cambridge in 2013). We're at the end of the first day, and what a fascinating first day it has been. Great talks from Tony Belpaeme, David Vernon and Yiannis Demiris. Between these I played support-act, and filled a slot in the programme with some background and observations on performing HRI experiments. The title/abstract of my talk:
"Experimental HRI: a wander through the challenges"
Running HRI experiments is difficult. Running HRI experiments outside of the lab, in the real world, can introduce even more difficulties. Having to deal with real people's quirks and foibles just adds to the challenges! However, there is so much of interest in doing just that: the development of better social robots, and to support the creation of robotic assistants and tools that can help people in their daily lives.
In this talk, an overview will be given of some of the constraints and trade-offs that may be encountered when implementing and running HRI experiments, but also of the opportunities that arise, and effects that can be taken advantage of. Examples from Child-Robot Interaction studies will serve to highlight these, including robots to help children learn, and running experiments in schools and hospitals.
Some of these issues may already be familiar or be intuitive, and will certainly be non-exhaustive, but the intention is to outline the basis of a toolkit of experimental HRI considerations that can be thrown at any attempts to release experiments into 'the wild'.