"Reinventing Human-Robot Interaction for Companion Robots"

Thursday 21 October @ 11AM PST (Virtual Seminar)

 Join URL: https://ucsd.zoom.us/j/94406976474

Speaker:  Paolo Pirjanian, Ph.D., Founder/CEO of Embodied and former CTO of iRobot


Seminar Abstract

Previous solutions to HRI have taken a piecemeal approach to building a social interface and have failed. Many solutions merely copy the command-response conversation pattern, e.g., from Alexa, onto a robot which can be awkward and unnatural. Most social robots attempt to add human qualities but fall short in true social interaction: simply adding “eyes” that do not look at you is uncanny. Using a touch screen “face” as a means of input is a step backwards and poking a character’s “face” encourages inappropriate social behavior. Having a faux body but no means to express body language seems lifeless and lacks embodiment. These piecemeal solutions miss the point. Social interaction does not require perfect anthropomorphic form-factor but it does need a minimum set of affordances to have successful and believable agency, something that we can learn from Pixar, Disney and the like.

At Embodied we have been rethinking and reinventing how human-machine interaction is done - where a user can have a fluid natural conversation with a robot; and where the robot can discern who to address and how to proactively engage and use subtle eye gaze, facial expressions, and body language as part of its response.

In this presentation, Paolo Pirjanian will discuss Embodied’s solution and our first product, Moxie, targeting children as a solution to promote social, emotional and cognitive skills.


Paolo Pirjanian received his M.Sc and Ph.D. in CSE from Aalborg University. He was a Post-Doc at USC and then at JPL are a research scientist. From JPL he came to Evolution Robotics and was the CTO and Later the CEO before it was acquired by iRobot. He has served as at the CTO of iRobot and is the founder and CEO of Embodied. He is a NASA scientist turned robotics entrepreneur who has helped create technologies for many products ranging from the Sony AIBO to the iRobot Roomba and most recently Moxie.