AttentionBot: A Robot Keeping Human Attention

AttentionBot’s purpose is to conduct researches in how to keep human attention. We are interested in communication inconsistency meaning that a person’s behaviors and speeches are inconsistent. In design field, people call the inconsistency “anti-affordance” meaning that the form and the function are unrelated. This leads to our research question: can anti-affordance robot designs attract and keep more human attention? We design two appearances (kind-looking Santa and evil-looking witch) and two characters (mean and nice). The kind-looking Santa with mean character and the evil-looking witch with nice character are anti-affordance robots. The other two are affordance robots. The robot asks the participant to mimic the sound that it says. The nice robot is encouraging and friendly while the mean robot is a terrible tease. Although the results of the experiment did not show significant differences in anti-affordance and affordance robots, we found that people got confused in identifying the character while interacting with anti-affordance robots. We conclude that for short term interaction, the influence level of appearance is larger than the one of character.

This is a project in “16867-Principles of Human-Robot Interaction” class in Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, U.S.A. Thanks to the supports of the project advisor, Prof. Illah R. Nourbakhsh. And also thanks to CREATE Lab's Hummingbird platform so that our group can easily develop the control system of the robot. Please visit for more information.

- Yen-Chia Hsu, Zheng Yang, and Valerie A Gonzalez