These Completely Adorable Robots Could Soon Be Joining Your Workplace
by Trisha Leigh
There’s been plenty of talk lately about AI and how it is going to transform every aspect of our lives. If you’re assuming that the robots coming for our jobs and leisure time and eventually our lives are going to look like us, though, think again.
Because based on these experiments, “robot wellbeing coaches” could be the wave of the future.
These robots interacted with employees in order for researchers to study how well they were able to boost morale. What they found was that it could definitely work – as long as the robots were cute.
“We wanted to take the robots out of the lab and study how they might be useful in the real world,” said Micol Spitale, one of the researchers at Cambridge University.
They presented their findings at the International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction.
The experiment took place over the course of a month, and involved 26 employees and two different robots. The robots asked each employee to recall a positive experience and then ask followup questions using the same script, voice, and facial expressions.
Their bodies were the only thing that was different, and researchers found that people much preferred making a connection with the one that was more adorable.
Called Misty, the toy-like robot stood 14 inches tall and had zero limbs. Scientists posit that people had low expectations of the robot, based on its looks.
The second robot, QT, was more human-like. It stood around three feet tall and left employees consistently more disappointed with their interactions with it once they realized it wasn’t able to hold anything close to a human conversation.
Overall, employees reported that they found talking with the robots and completing the wellbeing exercises helpful.
“The robot can serve as a physical reminder to commit to the practice of wellbeing exercises. And just saying things out loud, even to a robot, can be helpful when you’re trying to improve mental wellbeing.”
No word on whether or not employers are going to be bringing these little cuties on board anytime soon.
But at this point, I’m going to assume it’s in our future.