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Judging a socially assistive robot (SAR) by its cover; The effect of body structure, outline, and color on users' perception

by   Ela Liberman-Pincu, et al.

Human-SAR (socially assistive robot) relationships vary by the context of use and interaction level. We argue that context and interaction considerations must be incorporated into the SAR's physical design requirements to align the robotic visual qualities (VQs) with users' expectations. We propose to consider situational-based and dynamics-based human-SAR relationship models in constructing the requirements. Previous studies contributed to the understanding of users` perceptions and preferences regarding existing commercially available SARs. Yet, very few studies regarding SARs' appearance used designated SAR designs, and even fewer evaluated isolated visual features. In this work, we aim to systematically assess the effect of isolated VQs. To achieve this, we first deconstruct the VQs attributed to SARs. Then, a reconstruction of body structure, outline, and color scheme was done, resulting in the creation of 30 new SAR models that differ in their VQs, allowing us to isolate one character at a time. We used these new designs to evaluate users' preferences and perceptions in two empirical studies. Our empirical findings link visual qualities with perceptions of SAR characteristics. Together with the relationship models, the outcomes are an exemplar of how to form guidelines for the industrial design processes of new SARs to match user expectations.


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