Disney’s research lab recently unveiled a rather astonishing humanoid robot. This one has the particularity of having a very realistic, almost human look. The goal? Accurately emulate the human gaze to improve human-machine interactions.
Disney Robot direct contact with humans
In 2018, Japanese roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro presented Ibuki, a robot with the goal of communicating with and helping people. Taking the appearance of a ten-year-old child, this machine had made the buzz for its realism. In 2019, we were talking about the words of American futurist Ian Pearson. The person concerned evoked robosexuality, a global trend boosted by the appearance of ever more realistic sex robots. Let us also mention the Indian Organization for Space Research (ISRO), wishing in the near future to send its humanoid robot Vyommitra into space.
In a press release published on October 23, 2020, Disney Research unveiled its humanoid robot Gaze. Resting on a trunk and for the moment devoid of skin, Gaze is a humanoid robot whose main characteristic is at eye level. Indeed, his gaze is rather disturbing realism. The Gaze robot has a sensor located in its chest, allowing it to know when a person is in front of it. Therefore, the machine establishes direct contact, in particular using micro-eye movements by varying their speed. Gaze accurately reproduces the human gaze, where other robots of the genre seem frozen.
The importance of the gaze in interactions
“The gaze has been shown to be a key social signal that shapes the perception of the people we interact with. For example, people who look at us more are seen as looking like us, but also as smarter, conscientious, sincere, and trustworthy, ”reads the Disney Research publication.
The engineers of the laboratory also explain that the gaze seems to convey complex social and emotional states. This can therefore function as an important tool in the case of an interactive robot. For the directors of the project, it is a question of developing a system capable of emulating the mutual gaze in the image of man. The objective is to create interactions with the gaze from a technological point of view, but not only. The objective is also to improve the animation of characters for whom the fidelity and credibility of the movement are essential. At the height of realism, the Gaze robot is also able to imitate breathing movements.