Meet Transgazer – designed by Engineers at the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation in Japan – whose concave eye design allows it to appear to stare at you; even if you are not standing directly in front of it.
It designers believes that eye contact is the missing key to improving human-robot interactions. Yuki Kinoshita, one of Transgazer creators, explained that the team “thought ‘why be restricted by human eyes?’ Robot eyes could be very different”.
The problem is that a human eye only gives the impression of looking at someone when we actually are. This means that unless we look at someone directly, it will be obvious we are directing our attention elsewhere. The same is true of robot eyes if they are modelled on the same shape.
The solution that the team came up with is simple. They added concave eyes onto the back of regular convex eyes. This allows Transgazer to switch between the two types of eyes by rolling its eyes 180 degrees (flipping them inside out!).
We thought in reverse and came up with an idea to gaze better than human eyes by changing the shapeYuki Kinoshita
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The team tested the new concave eye design with a group of volunteers. Audience members felt that the robot was more attentive and showed more warmth when delivering a lecture using the new concave eye design instead of using traditional convex eyes.
Alessandra Sciutti at the Italian Institute of Technology explained that gaze is an important part of human engagement and that “playing with the very shape of the robot eyes it is possible to influence significantly the human perception of the interaction”.