Cambridge robot reads emotions

Cambridge robot reads emotions

Summary: Charles the robot has systems capable of monitoring and interpreting human body language, according to professor Peter Robinson

TOPICS: Emerging Tech

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  • Mind-reading robots

    The Rainbow Research Group at the University of Cambridge, which looks at how interactions between people and computers can be improved, has been conducting a series of experiments with robots developed to detect, analyse and respond to human emotions.

    In a University of Cambridge video released in December, the Rainbow team described its work on developing 'mind-reading machines', or computers that infer people's emotional states by monitoring facial expressions and body language.

    "The problem is that computers don't react to how I feel," professor Peter Robinson of Cambridge University says in the video. "Whether I'm pleased or annoyed, they just ignore me."

    In this picture, Robinson (left) demonstrates interaction with Charles, a direction-giving robot, in a driving simulation.

    In the test, Robinson pretends to be vaguely disquieted about a simulated build-up of traffic and suggests an alternative route. Charles, the navigator, agrees to the route change and expresses mild surprise at Robinson's positive reaction.

    Photo credit: University of Cambridge Rainbow Research Group

  • Robot's camera eyes

    Charles has cameras in his eyes to monitor expressions on human faces, and 24 motors controlling facial expressions.

    "The way Charles and I can communicate shows us the future of how people are going to interact with machines," Robinson said.

    Separate systems in Charles monitor expressions, gestures and body movements.

    Photo credit: University of Cambridge Rainbow Research Group

Topic: Emerging Tech

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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