Elisabeth André's research focuses on human-machine interactions. This summer in Scotland, at the 23rd International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication, she talked about her research in the light of assisting the elderly: this area of application leads to a high demand for technologies that enable smooth interactions between humans and machines. Currently, most human-robot interfaces focus on input explicitly issued by the human users. However, in human-human communication, it is often the myriad of unconsciously conveyed signals that will determine whether an encounter between people is successful or not.
Recently, techniques for analyzing human behavioral signals in real-time have become more robust. In addition, the robots' expressivity has been increased, for example, by equipping them with synthetic skin that can be manipulated to convey a variety of emotional states. Therefore, time has come to explore the power and potential of subtle social signals in human-robot interaction. Usually, social signals are not deliberately communicated by users. Nevertheless, they may reveal information that can be exploited to adjust a robot's behavior without making users aware of the fact that they are implicitly controlling it. In her lecture, Prof. André demonstrated how progress made in the area of social signal processing can contribute to a deeper symbiosis in human-robot interaction. This includes the collection of human behavioral cues under naturalistic conditions.
Elisabeth André has studied computer science and mathematics in Saarbrücken, Germany. She has a long track record in multimodal interfaces, embodied conversational agents and social signal processing and participated in a variety of international projects in these areas, such as CEEDS (The Collective Experience of Empathic Data Systems), TARDIS (Training young Adult's Regulation of emotions and Development of social Interaction Skills), ILHAIRE (Incorporating Laughter into Human-Avatar Interactions: Research and Evaluation) and eCute (education in Cultural understanding technology enhanced). In 2010, Elisabeth André was elected a member of the prestigious German Academy of Sciences 'Leopoldina'. She is a full professor of Computer Science at Augsburg University, and chair of the research unit Human-Centered Multimedia. (© Augsburg University, AcademiaNet)