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Prosody for Intuitive Robotic Interface Design: It's Not What You Said, It's How You Said It

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In this paper, we investigate the use of `prosody' (the musical elements of speech) as a communicative signal for intuitive human-robot interaction interfaces. Our approach, rooted in Research through Design (RtD), examines the application of prosody in directing a quadruped robot navigation. We involved ten team members in an experiment to command a robot through an obstacle course using natural interaction. A human operator, serving as the robot's sensory and processing proxy, translated these interactions into navigation commands, effectively simulating an intuitive interface. During our analysis of interaction videos, where lexical and visual cues proved insufficient for accurate command interpretation, we turned to non-verbal auditory cues. Qualitative evidence suggests that participants intuitively relied on prosody to control the robot navigation. This paper discusses specific distinct prosodic constructs that emerged from our analysis and their functions. Our findings highlight prosody as a multifunctional communicative signal offering substantial potential for intuitive robotic interfaces.


Ellie Sanoubari, Atil Iscen, Leila Takayama, Stefano Saliceti, Corbin Cunningham, Ken Caluwaerts


HRI 2024 Workshop