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Study: The perfect interaction between humans & robots

How do users want to interact with robots? Is there a form of interaction in which users are more likely to accept mistakes? Or that per se improves user experience? These were the questions at the center of our study "In search of the optimal human-robot interaction". The results provide useful information on developing positive human-robot interaction, increasing the acceptance of robots. The study is available for download free of charge.

What form of interaction with robots do users prefer? Our study will let you know.

Study design

For the study, we developed a prototype – Paul the little scan robot. It consists of a gripper which can be used to grasp and scan products. The users employed voice, gesture or display commands to open and close the gripper. All in all, 30 participants worked on five tasks with the scan robot. At the start, they were assigned one form of interaction that they should use to solve the task. In order to test the users‘ frustration tolerance, we had to “annoy” them.

This means that we manipulated some of the tasks in a way that the gripper wouldn’t open despite being given the correct command. The participants had to change to another form of interaction to continue the process and finish the tasks. We analyzed after how many attempts the participants changed the form of interaction and how they assessed the user experience with and without manipulation.

What form of interaction with robots do users prefer? Our study will let you know.

Users prefer voice control but …

Users prefer to interact with robots using voice commands: 70 % of the participants chose these as their preferred form of interaction with robots. However, using this form of interaction doesn’t necessarily lead to a better user experience. The participants do not accept more mistakes when using this type of interaction than when using any other form:

With displays, they changed to another interaction type after 3.94, with voice after 4.55 and with gestures after 5 failed attempts. The UX, too, suffered the same in the manipulated tasks of all three forms. This led us to conclude that there is no form of interaction that users prefer irrespective of the context and whose use per se increases UX.

What form of interaction with robots do users prefer? Our study will let you know.

Focus on the user

For future robot projects this means: Neither sticking to voice control alone as the perfect form of interaction nor offering numerous types is the way to go. Developers should rather put the user at the center of the development strategies as specified by user-centered design. Therefore, the form of interaction used should be adapted to the respective requirements and the context of use.

If you would like to know more, download the complete study free of charge.

The study was part of the GINA project funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research.