30 June 2015

Hoomano’s team – Xavier: For a natural robot – human interaction

xbt-web-profilXavier Basset is the founder of Hoomano. Based in Lyon (FRANCE), our company integrates service robotics solutions. Concretely, we design, develop and deploy applications for humanoid robots such as Nao (Aldebaran).

Among its daily tasks, Xavier is in charge of checking that the human – robot interaction is “natural”.

What are the keys for a good robot – human interaction?

First of all, our robots generally initiate the relationship with the human. That is to say, our robots guide the interaction and the exchange. They are not perfect mechanical machines, but they are excellent tools conveying a social and relational meaning. Thanks to that, they can easily share messages coded in our applications.

These messages are adaptive, meaning they take into account the environment of the robot in order to create a more natural interaction. In short, our robots are not some kind of athletes but they are above all emotional. They can see your smile and react to make you understand that they have seen it!

What does that mean concretely?

We have developed tailor-made roles and behaviors for specialised retailers. For instance, our robots demonstrate some products. But they don’t “act in a robotic way”, repeating again and again the same sentence with the same animation. Each robot demonstrates the product by adapting its speech to its public. When a single person is in front of it, the robot can engage with her by asking a question for example. But when a bunch of people is in front of the robot, it rather speaks about the product and its benefits. And to magnify the customization of the interaction for each customer, we decline the sentences in several versions. In that way, two persons coming quickly one after another will not hear the same speech. And if someone comes back, he will not have exactly the same exchange.

What about the salesman? How is he integrated in the relationship?

After its demonstration, the robot puts the client in touch with the salesman. Moreover, the latter can ask the robot to stop its behavior, or launch a specific explanation, in order to take over the relationship with the client. Thus, the robot makes the transition between the product demonstration and the intervention of the salesman easier. In this way, the salesman can focus on its main mission: sell.

Is a good human – robot interaction the key to the success of stores’ robotization?

It’s part of it, but it’s not enough. We cannot let the robot enter a store by a sunny day and that’s it. We know that all the stakeholders of the project have to be accompanied to reach the success. That’s why Hoomano commits to be present for its clients and proposes introductions and specific trainings. The aim is to familiarize every stakeholder and boost the results by explaining how the robot is a tool for the salesman.

In that way, we ensure the success of the integration of a humanoid robot in the store.

A final word?

Finally, if the interaction is so important, it’s because it allows us to create engaging applications which bring fun and smiles to our clients and to their own customers!


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