A Nice Gesture by Jeroen Arendsen

A Nice Gesture by Jeroen Arendsen

A mix of posts on gesture, HCI, perception or robots and some personal information.

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Reality check for Mule-like Robots

In the news today: Marine Corps Shelves Futuristic Robo-Mule Due to Noise Concerns.

I always love it when robots and robotic solutions are actually evaluated in a reality check with the people who are supposed to use it in the future in a realistic scenario. Often, these people and these scenario’s have not really been involved in the development process.

In this case it turns out that the Robo-Mule was too loud and suffered from other real-world problems like dependability and subtlety. So, the military has decided to shelve the programme until further notice, meaning that the company developing the robot basically also stops the programme.

For other sectors, like healthcare, these kinds of reality checks are also important. Because, it the military finds the system unsuitable for real-world application then chances are that other sectors will also find fault with it. A similar case was the exo-skeleton. After initial pioneering work by the military it was also thought applicable in healthcare. But, after the military lost interest, the entire solution lost a lot of momentum.

Some images of the Robo-Mule.

Dutch News / Nederlandse vertaling

Item over Zora en andere robots in de zorg bij CampusTV Utrecht

Naar aanleiding van een grote proef met de Zora robot (eigenlijk NAO met wat extra programmering door een Belgisch bedrijfje) was er een item op CampusTV van de Hogeschool Utrecht over robots in de zorg.

Ik was uitgenodigd als expert om commentaar te geven over robots in de zorg.

Zie Campustalk 07 Winter 2015-2016 https://youtu.be/qd8txYpq9GM (actie vanaf 3:30). Het verhaal van de verzamel-expert is trouwens ook leuk (aan het eind).

Gareth Bale’s Free Kick Thwarted by Magic Spell Caster Tal Ben Haim

Just when you think you have seen it all:

Watch Israel’s Tal Ben Haim bewitch the ball about to be kicked by Wales’ Gareth Bale

Interestingly, there are more examples of magical gestures being used on the pitch, in sports. For example, there is a story about anchor gestures used in cricket to relieve stress. You can even invent them yourself, much like one can create one’s own mudra. And all of those examples have a lot in common with the creation of magical spells

This player, Tal Ben Haim II, is worth a google… according to Wikipedia he has only played for Israeli teams and has played for Israel a number of times. Well, nothing else really stands out, so this incident with Bale is really his best claim to fame so far.

Gun gesture not so innocent after all

In the news today in the UK Daily Mail:

Brother of ‘hoodie’ who mocked David Cameron with a gun gesture in 2007 has been shot in the legs after a doorstep attack (link)

Now, this is a sad story about a young man who was named in the media, Ryan Florence, see my previous post here. At the time it seemed like it was a fairly childish gesture that people overreacted to. Perhaps I was wrong. It turns out both he and his brother are involved in illegal gun posession and now his brother has been shot in both of his legs…

The infamous gun gesture aimed at then prime minister David Cameron

New Publication about Design Methodology

I just added a new publication to my publication list:

Marc Steen, Jeroen Arendsen, Anita Cremers, Arnoud de Jong, Jacomien de Jong & Nicole de Koning (2013). Using interactive model simulations in co-design: An experiment in urban design. CoDesign: International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts. Volume 9, Issue 1. (Purchase online at the publisher)

Title: Using interactive model simulations in co-design: An experiment in urban design
Abstract: This paper presents an experiment in which people performed a co-design task in urban design, using a multi-user touch table application with or without interactive model simulations. We hypothesised that using the interactive model simulations would improve communication and co-operation between co-design participants, would help participants to develop shared understanding and would positively affect the co-design process and its outcomes. However, our experiment (involving 60 people in 20 co-design sessions) only partly confirmed these hypotheses. People positively evaluated the interactive model simulation tools (an interactive map of an urban area, interactive models for traffic, sound, sight and safety, and ‘tangibles’), and these tools promoted communication and co-operation, and the exploration of design solutions. However, people’s experiences of social cohesion and their satisfaction with their own contribution to the co-design process were better without these tools, possibly because using these tools drew people’s attention towards these interactive model simulations and away from the dynamics between the participants. We therefore advocate using such tools selectively, for example, early on in a co-design process, to improve shared understanding of the contents of the problem, rather than later on, when people need to focus on their fellow participants and on the processes of communication and co-operation.

My contribution was the setup of the experiment, the definition of measurements and the analysis (statistical and discussion) of the results. It was work done while I was working at TNO.

Interesting CHRIS video

An important European robotics project called CHRIS (Cooperative Human Robot Interaction Systems FP7 215805) has received its final review last april. They have also created a very nice video that summarizes their work:

As the video show, the work includes the recognition of speech, gesture (pointing), actions, and objects. All within a context of cooperation and safety. But, I will not try to summarize their work. Just watch the video.

A Human-Elbonian Handshake

Coincidentally, the daily Dilbert comic also features a somewhat alien handshake, as was the case with Robonaut’s handshake.

A Handshake or a Mitten Kiss?

Wally nicely takes advantage of the gullibility of his Pointy Hared Boss, who, like so many induhviduals, apparently believes in what one might call ‘Inter-Cultural Gesture Determinism’. It is one of the The Biggest Misunderstanding About Gestures that you should be wary of using gestures when talking to strangers. I believe that, generally speaking, when you meet people who speak another language or come from another culture, gestures are your best friend in communication.

Why the Robonaut Handshake with ISS Captain Burbank is not a Greeting

Last Februari 15, 2012, NASA made a little fuss about Robonaut (or R2) performing ‘the first human-humanoid handshake in space’. You can watch it in the video below.

‘Robonaut Shakes Hands’, uploaded by ReelNASA

I would like to use this occasion to enlighten both humans and humanoids about greetings. Although it is of course nice that cpt. Burbank has some kind words regarding the robot’s firm handshake, a nice bit of programming in itself, the normal phases of a greeting, which is a fairly well documented social interaction pattern, are remarkably absent. A handshake is what is called the ‘close salutation’. These ‘close salutations’ are the final phase of the entire greeting episode, which also includes sighting and announcement, distance salutations, and an approach phase (Kendon, 1990). None of the first three steps were followed by Robonaut and cpt. Burbank, the latter merely waited for Robonaut to try and grab his hand. I think this is important, because greetings are among the best documented social interaction patterns of humans. If we want to create social robots, then programming a proper greeting may be one of the most important, and most manageable things we can strive for.

Some references:
Arendsen, J. (2008). Greeting by gesture, a review. Gesture, 8(3), pp. 386-390, link, pdf
Kendon, A. (1990). A description of some human greetings. Conducting Interaction, pp. 153-207. Cambridge University Press.

Update, here is a nice example of a handshake that includes all of the phases of a greeting. They make eye contact, nod slightly or incline their head, approach each other and shake hands.

M.I.A. Doesn’t Give a Shit, Flips the Bird

Another nice gesture story in the news, although, sadly, it is once again about a performer giving the finger. This time it is the artist M.I.A..

M.I.A. giving the finger during Superbowl 46
M.I.A. giving everyone the finger during Superbowl 46 (Source BBC news - Getty Images)

Wikipedia (always good with the bare facts):
While performing with Madonna at the Super Bowl 46, M.I.A. gave the middle finger to a camera just before a cutaway during the halftime show. The gesture came during a performance of Madonna’s new single, “Give Me All Your Luvin’.” At the end of her lines, M.I.A. sang, “I don’t give a ***t.” The incident prompted apologies to be issued by NBC and the NFL.

A video of the incident (source Business Insider, hope they keep the video up)

One somewhat interesting element of the story is that apparently the gesture wasn’t picked up by the people responsible for detecting inappropriate stuff in the ‘delay system’. Well, it is fairly quick, but still easy to see. But then again, there is so much to see on the stage that perhaps they missed because they were looking at other things.

Van Persie’s Nice Gesture Combi Mistaken for a Fascist Salute?

An interesting story in the news (here) and on YouTube today about gestures made by Robin van Persie. Best to watch the video first:

The video containing the gesture (for as long as it stays online…)

Apparently some people interpreted his gesture combination as the Roman/Fascist/Hitler greeting. He himself twittered in response:

Persie_Official Robin van Persie: It has been brought to my attention of some ridiculous allegations concerning my celebration of one of my goals yesterday. It is totally ludicrous to suggest that. My action of brushing my shoulder and pointing to my fans could be construed as anything else but of a showing of joy and celebration. To suggest this meant anything to the contrary is insulting and absolutely absurd as nothing else came into my mind.”

Apart from his grammar, I support his explanation of the gestures. “Brushing your shoulders” is indeed a Dutch gesture performed after performing great feats to indicate “that only ruffled my suit a bit” or “that hardly cost any effort”. Often accompanied with a grin or smirk and brash composure (as displayed here as well). And in this case he uses a salute to direct the gesture towards the audience, which I would interpret as an additional “and I do it all for you”.

This is however also a wonderful example of the importance of context, the perception of intentions, and the sensitivities of observers when it comes to interpreting the meaning of gestures. Someone who is suspicious of Van Persie (for whatever reason) or otherwise prone to ascribe ill intentions to him, may actually look at these gestures, in this situation, quite differently than most people. In this case however it would mean they think extremely lowly of him and of the Arsenal fans. Their line of thinking would run roughly as follows (and just to be certain: I do not agree with it): “I hate fascists/nazi’s. Van Persie may well a secret fascist/nazi. There are more like him in the Arsenal audience that he wishes to salute. He is using the pretext of cheering after a goal to make a (badly) camouflaged fascist salute. But he won’t get away with it, because I saw what I saw.” Well, I pity the one who thinks like that, sorry.

Just to end on a positive note: congrats to Van Persie for a wonderful performance. My hat’s off to you. You indeed make it look so easy sometimes.


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