Robot-Mediated Interviews: a Robotic Intermediary for Facilitating Communication with Children
Wood, Luke Jai
Robots have been used in a variety of education, therapy or entertainment contexts. This thesis introduces the novel application of using humanoid robots for Robot-Mediated Interviews (RMIs). In the initial stages of this research it was necessary to first establish as a baseline if children would respond to a robot in an interview setting, therefore the first study compared how children responded to a robot and a human in an interview setting. Following this successful initial investigation, the second study expanded on this research by examining how children would respond to different types and difficulty of questions from a robot compared to a human interviewer. Building on these studies, the third study investigated how a RMI approach would work for children with special needs. Following the positive results from the three studies indicating that a RMI approach may have some potential, three separate user panel sessions were organised with user groups that have expertise in working with children and for whom the system would be potentially useful in their daily work. The panel sessions were designed to gather feedback on the previous studies and outline a set of requirements to make a RMI system feasible for real world users. The feedback and requirements from the user groups were considered and implemented in the system before conducting a final field trial of the system with a potential real world user. The results of the studies in this research reveal that the children generally interacted with KASPAR in a very similar to how they interacted with a human interviewer regardless of question type or difficulty. The feedback gathered from experts working with children suggested that the three most important and desirable features of a RMI system were: reliability, flexibility and ease of use. The feedback from the experts also indicated that a RMI system would most likely be used with children with special needs. The final field trial with 10 children and a potential real world user illustrated that a RMI system could potentially be used effectively outside of a research context, with all of the children in the trial responding to the robot. Feedback from the educational psychologist testing the system would suggest that a RMI approach could have real world implications if the system were developed further.