Robots are there for you

VIDEO NEWS RELEASE: Dr Rhajiv Khosla and NEC Japan have been working together to help robots recognise and understand human emotions.

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Narration:

These cute, human looking robots from NEC Japan are not just toys. They are the cutting edge of a new push to humanise technology. Here, at their ‘Big Brother’ lab in Japan, NEC is bringing the world’s most innovative scientists together to take robotic technology across its next frontier.

Here we also find Australian computer engineer Dr Rajiv Khosla from Melbourne’s La Trobe University. NEC co-opts Dr Khosla to their creative think tank from time to time because they want his ideas …and his technology.

This multi-disciplinary academic and scientist has come up with technology that will give NEC’s Papero and other robots like these Emotional Intelligence. A capacity to interact meaningfully with humans – and recognise and respond to human emotions.

An academic and management guru, computer scientist, and electrical engineer, Dr Khosla developed his amazing software at La Trobe University’s Faculty of Law and Management.
    
Here in his University den, Dr Khosla dreams of a world where robots and humans are friends.

Rhajiv:
Information Technology is becoming all pervasive, it’s becoming so much part of our lives we tend to spend more time in front of our computers than we do with our friends … and what has happened is while this technology has become all powerful and is providing us with some convenience, it has also resulted in an information explosion. We as computer users and people are not a set of procedures and rules only but are emotional beings. So the philosophy here is to incorporate the human senses into the design of computers so they can interact with us in an emotionally intelligent manner.

Narration:
Dr Khosla achieved this here in his ‘Little Brother Lab’ at La Trobe University - where robot intelligence evolved from wishful thinking to reality.

With his own small team of innovators he designed software that reads and interprets human emotional and cognitive responses. This is  JUST the concept that has captivated NEC.

Rhajiv:
NEC you see has a very futuristic vision where they want to shift the focus of design of ICTs (Information Communication Technologies) from just purely convenience and being powerful, to social innovation – and what they mean by social innovation is, they want to use these ICTs for enhancing people-to-people communication skills, with a macro vision of wellbeing and sustainability of human society.

Narration:
Here at La Trobe, IT students from different countries fine-tune complex emotional systems for the world’s first generation of caring robots. These include emotionally intelligent systems for recruitment and behaviour profiling; holiday destination planning; driver safety

Rhajiv:
this is actually capturing the driver movements in an actual driving scenario. The idea is we want to catch the driver dozing.

Narration:
And robot nurses or health care robots to care for our physical and emotional wellbeing.

Rhajiv:
We are trying to design emotionally intelligent pre and post operative health care robot systems which will provide a means of assessing the emotional state of patients when they come in for surgery, and the whole idea is to establish an emotional channel between the care-give and the care receiver.

Narration:
There are many real-world applications. So let’s see how this technology works.

Rhajiv:
What we are trying to show you is an example where a person like Ken is providing his cognitive responses to the system and while he’s doing it his cognitive responses are being recorded; we are also recording his emotional responses through his facial expressions……… we … actually on the one hand produce his cognitive profile, based on his cognitive reponses, and on the other hand we calibrate his emotional profile or emotional responses …. using control points on his face focused on his different facial features. What you see in the emotional profile are the negative spikes which show the negative emotional states; and it sits just on the line where there’s no change, and if there’s a neutral state, and if the spike sits above the line it shows a positive emotional state.

Narration:
We’re looking at digitised representations of Kentoro’s cognitive and emotional profiles which the software will now integrate.

Rhajiv:
That provides us high quality information quality for decision-making.

Narration:
What then will this technology bring to our robot friends?

Rhajiv:
Well it will allow Papero and other robots to interact in an emotionally intelligent manner with their human partners. In a range of situations, it can be in various lifestyle situations, in decision-making situations. The whole idea is to improve the quality of life – at work, and away from work, in lifestyle situations.

Narration:

We’re talking about robots that will interact with us according to our needs. Imagine you are elderly, admitted to hospital for surgery. Feeling anxious, perhaps fearful? Imagine being met by nursing staff – AND their friendly little health care robot ---  tasked expressly to assess your emotional state:

Robot:
How are you feeling today Maureen? Have you had an operation before? Do you know what to expect after surgery?

Maureen:
Well not exactly, I suppose I’ll be in a lot of pain, but…

Narration:
Our Nurse Robot evaluates each response. This patient seems relaxed, but our robot monitors some signs of anxiety.

Robot
Are you worried about anaesthetics?

Narration:
And this patient may be quite worried

Robot:
We’ll ask the anaesthetist to see you.

Narration:
Here’s what our caring robot says about his patients’ emotional states.

Robot:
This patient is doing fine. She is reasonably calm. This patient is anxious. Nurse needs to comfort her.


Narration:
Is this just a fantasy?  NEC’S Dr Yamada thinks not:

Dr Yamada:
I have used these robots in nursing houses. These robots can speak and they communicate with people. Brain science has been getting more and more popular.

Most scientists want to watch activities of brain directly, but Dr Khosla is trying to see emotional activity in the brain by watching human behaviour and facial expression and body expression.

We strongly expect that his research result will open up a new vision. What we need is a technology of health care and a technology to take care of the people.

Narration:
So believe it. This collaboration is taking us into a new dimension – where robots that care for our health, our children and our elderly are just the beginning.    

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