User Experience in Social Human-Robot Interaction

User Experience in Social Human-Robot Interaction

Beatrice Alenljung (School of Informatics, University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden), Jessica Lindblom (School of Informatics, University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden), Rebecca Andreasson (School of Informatics, University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden & Department of Information Technology, Visual Information and Interaction, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden) and Tom Ziemke (School of Informatics, University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden & Department of Computer and Information Science, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/IJACI.2017040102

Abstract

Socially interactive robots are expected to have an increasing importance in human society. For social robots to provide long-term added value to people's lives, it is of major importance to stress the need for positive user experience (UX) of such robots. The human-centered view emphasizes various aspects that emerge in the interaction between humans and robots. However, a positive UX does not appear by itself but has to be designed for and evaluated systematically. In this paper, the focus is on the role and relevance of UX in human-robot interaction (HRI) and four trends concerning the role and relevance of UX related to socially interactive robots are identified, and three challenges related to its evaluation are also presented. It is argued that current research efforts and directions are not sufficient in HRI research, and that future research needs to further address interdisciplinary research in order to achieve long-term success of socially interactive robots.
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Introduction

Socially interactive robots are expected to have an increasing importance in everyday life for a growing number of people. Lately, there has been an increased number of socially interactive robots in human environments and their level of participation in everyday activities are becoming more sophisticated (Dautenhahn, 2007a; Oh & Kim, 2010; Thrun, 2004). For robots – as for all other types of interactive systems, products, and devices – positive user experience (UX) is necessary in order to achieve the intended benefits. Briefly stated, user experience is about people’s feelings, as caused and shaped by the use of technology in a particular context (Hartson & Pyla, 2012; Hassenzahl, 2013), and UX is therefore essential for user acceptance of social robots (de Graaf & Allouch, 2013). If the usage of a robot entails a negative experience for the user, it can have negative consequences, such as reluctance to use that particular robot, or robots in general, erroneous handling, or spreading bad reputation about robots. Therefore, it is essential for robot developers to put serious effort into building robots that users experience as positive. By designing a high-quality interaction with the intended users and usage context in mind it is possible to positively influence that experience (Hartson & Pyla, 2012; Hassenzahl & Tractinsky, 2006).

Positive user experiences underpin the proliferation of social robots in society (Weiss et al., 2009a), and therefore, the user experience of social robots needs to be a central issue of concern. However, a positive user experience does not appear by itself but has to be systematically, thoroughly, and consciously designed for as well as evaluated (Hartson & Pyla, 2012; Hassenzahl, 2013). This clearly highlights the importance of evaluating the quality of the interaction, resulting in evaluations of different aspects: including acceptance, usability, learnability, safety, trust, and credibility. While some of these aspects are covered in depth, some are just briefly touched upon in human-robot interaction (HRI) research. Therefore, each specific robot development project needs to take the UX perspective into account during the whole development process. The field of user experience design (UXD) offers methods, techniques, and guidelines for creating a positive user experience for all types of interactive systems intended for human use (Anderson et al., 2010; Hartson & Pyla, 2012).

The field of HRI is a young but growing research field that is facing several challenges. For example, there is a need to build a foundation of theories, models, methods, and tools. There is in particular a need for new evaluation techniques because human interactions with robots differ significantly from interactions with more traditional, and typically more passive, computer-based artifacts (Dautenhahn, 2007a; Thrun, 2004; Young et al., 2011). It has been proposed that useful inspiration can be derived from the fields of human-computer interaction (HCI) and user experience (UX) (Dautenhahn, 2007b). Currently, robot developers sometimes create their own evaluation methods without sufficient knowledge of appropriate methodologies, resulting in questionable validity and reliability of these so-called “quick and dirty” methods (Bartneck et al., 2009). In this paper, we argue that a good way to proceed in order to address this issue is to adopt existing techniques from HCI and UX, and use these appropriately adapted to HRI. Hence, practitioners like robot developers need research-based guidance regarding how to properly choose and apply UXD techniques and approaches for social robotic products.

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