Telepresence

profile

How can we improve telep­res­ence sys­tems (such as con­fer­ence robots) so they are not just “zoom on wheels” but actu­ally allow users to feel more present and nav­i­gate more easily around remote environments?”

FeetBack: Augmenting Robotic Telepresence with Haptic Feedback on the Feet

Telepresence robots allow people to par­tic­i­pate in remote spaces, yet they can be dif­fi­cult to manoeu­vre with people and obsta­cles around. We designed a haptic-feedback system called “FeetBack,” which users place their feet in when dri­ving a telep­res­ence robot. When the robot approaches people or obsta­cles, haptic prox­im­ity and col­li­sion feed­back are pro­vided on the respec­tive sides of the feet, help­ing inform users about events that are hard to notice through the robot’s camera views. We con­ducted two stud­ies: one to explore the usage of FeetBack in vir­tual envi­ron­ments, another focused on real envi­ron­ments. We found that FeetBack can increase spa­tial pres­ence in simple vir­tual envi­ron­ments. Users valued the feed­back to adjust their behav­iour in both types of envi­ron­ments, though it was some­times too fre­quent or unneeded for cer­tain sit­u­a­tions after a period of time. These results point to the value of foot-based haptic feed­back for telep­res­ence robot sys­tems, while also the need to design context-sensitive haptic feedback

Conference pre­sen­ta­tion at ICMI 2020:

System overview:

Publications

Jones, B., Maiero, J., Mogharrab, A., Aguliar, I. A., Adhikari, A., Riecke, B. E., Kruijff, E., Neustaedter, C., & Lindeman, R. W. (2020). FeetBack: Augmenting Robotic Telepresence with Haptic Feedback on the Feet. Proceedings of the 2020 International Conference on Multimodal Interaction, 194–203. https://doi.org/10.1145/3382507.3418820

 

How automatic speed control based on distance affects user behaviours in telepresence robot navigation within dense conference-like environments

Telepresence robots allow users to be spa­tially and socially present in remote envi­ron­ments. Yet, it can be chal­leng­ing to remotely oper­ate telep­res­ence robots, espe­cially in dense envi­ron­ments such as aca­d­e­mic con­fer­ences or work­places. In this paper, we pri­mar­ily focus on the effect that a speed con­trol method, which auto­mat­i­cally slows the telep­res­ence robot down when get­ting closer to obsta­cles, has on user behav­iors. In our first user study, par­tic­i­pants drove the robot through a static obsta­cle course with narrow sec­tions. Results indi­cate that the auto­matic speed con­trol method sig­nif­i­cantly decreases the number of col­li­sions. For the second study we designed a more nat­u­ral­is­tic, conference-like exper­i­men­tal envi­ron­ment with tasks that require social inter­ac­tion, and col­lected sub­jec­tive responses from the par­tic­i­pants when they were asked to nav­i­gate through the envi­ron­ment. While about half of the par­tic­i­pants pre­ferred auto­matic speed con­trol because it allowed for smoother and safer nav­i­ga­tion, others did not want to be influ­enced by an auto­matic mech­a­nism. Overall, the results sug­gest that auto­matic speed con­trol sim­pli­fies the user inter­face for telep­res­ence robots in static dense envi­ron­ments, but should be con­sid­ered as option­ally avail­able, espe­cially in sit­u­a­tions involv­ing social interactions.

Publications

Batmaz, A. U., Maiero, J., Kruijff, E., Riecke, B. E., Neustaedter, C., & Stuerzlinger, W. (2020). How auto­matic speed con­trol based on dis­tance affects user behav­iours in telep­res­ence robot nav­i­ga­tion within dense conference-like envi­ron­ments. PLOS ONE, 15(11), e0242078. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0242078

Geocaching with a Beam: Shared Outdoor Activities through a Telepresence Robot with 360 Degree Viewing

People often enjoy shar­ing out­door activ­i­ties together such as walk­ing and hiking. However, when family and friends are sep­a­rated by dis­tance it can be dif­fi­cult if not impos­si­ble to share such activ­i­ties. We explore this design space by inves­ti­gat­ing the ben­e­fits and chal­lenges of using a telep­res­ence robot to sup­port out­door leisure activ­i­ties. In our study, par­tic­i­pants par­tic­i­pated in the out­door activ­ity of geo­caching where one person geo­cached with the help of a remote part­ner via a telep­res­ence robot. We com­pared a wide field of view (WFOV) camera to a 360° camera. Results show the ben­e­fits of having a phys­i­cal embod­i­ment and a sense of immer­sion with the 360° view. Yet chal­lenges related to a lack of envi­ron­men­tal aware­ness, safety issues, and pri­vacy con­cerns result­ing from bystander inter­ac­tions. These find­ings illus­trate the need to design telep­res­ence robots with the envi­ron­ment and public in mind to pro­vide an enhanced sen­sory expe­ri­ence while bal­anc­ing safety and pri­vacy issues result­ing from being amongst the gen­eral public.

illus­tra­tion of geo­caching with a telep­res­ence robot

Publications

Heshmat, Y., Jones, B., Xiong, X., Neustaedter, C., Tang, T., Riecke, B. E., & Yang, L. (2018). Geocaching with a Beam: Shared Outdoor Activities through a Telepresence Robot with 360 Degree Viewing. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1145/3173574.3173933 (Download)