Workshop on Multicentric Interaction with Smart Homes & Home Robots

HAI Conference logo Workshop at the 5th International Conference on Human-Agent Interaction

The workshop will take place on Oct. 17, 2017, 9am - 5pm, CITEC room 2.015


Traditionally, human-machine interaction as well as human-robot interaction address the dyadic relationship between a human and a single device. In smart homes, the basic idea is different in that home devices are decomposed into a spatially distributed but interconnected network of sensors and actors. These can be dynamically combined to ‘virtual appliances’ which offer services to a user. Such services may not only relate to single devices like a lamp, a music box, a dishwasher, etc., but can also relate to scenarios like “watching a movie”, “cooking”, “cleaning the house” where multiple physical devices are involved.

The typical approach for managing this kind of interaction is a central control panel or a virtual agent or a kind of home robot which acts a central interface device for the user. Thus, the dyadic relationship of human-machine interaction is artificially reconstructed and still kept as a guiding principle at the cost of an interaction bottleneck. This scheme finally breaks down if more than one user is acting in the apartment and parallel interactions are aiming at different scenarios and goals.

For home robots, there are similar challenges. On the one hand, they are a mobile part of the sensor-actor home network, on the other hand, they get involved as a communication partner to a single person or group of persons. At the same time the home robot should not interfere with parallel activities in the apartment. In the workshop, we will approach these challenges by discussing concepts and methods related to multicentric interaction.

  • How to bundle smart homes and home robots as dynamic interaction interfaces?
  • How to manage the emerging resource conflicts?
  • How to shape (parallel) interactions minimizing communication bottlenecks and mutual interferences?
  • How to track user contexts in a distributed sensor-actor environment?
  • How to manage attention in multi-user interactions?

The fullday workshop will share interdisciplinary perspectives on the topic and bridges basic research and applications by introducing user requirements for seamless interaction with smart homes and home robots.

Research areas:

  • Multimodal interaction with robots and smart environments
  • Social robotics & Human-Robot interaction
  • Multi-party vs parallel dialogue(s)
  • Cognitive modeling of conversational behavior
  • Cognitive architectures for intelligent multi-tasking systems
  • Ubiquitous computing & multi-user IoT
  • Natural user interface design
  • Ambient assisted living
  • Applications of smart homes and home robots

Workshop program

09:00 - 10:30 First session

  • Sven Wachsmuth (Bielefeld University): Welcome/Introduction - Challenges of Multicentric Interaction

  • Serge Autexier (BAALL/DFKI Bremen): Semantics-based Assistance Processes and the multiplicity and dynamics of persons, sensors, actors, robots

  • Marc Hanheide (Univeristy of Lincoln): Robots "Blending In" - The issue of egocentric robots

​10:30 - 11:00 ** Coffee Break **

11:00 - 12:00 Second Session

  • Nguyen Sao Mai (IMT Atlantique): Plug and play your robot into your smart home for adaptable assistive technologies.

  • Alexandra Kirsch (University of Tübingen): Potentials and Limitations of Indoor Positioning with Bluetooth Beacons

12:00 - 12:30 Discussion

  • Small work group discussions: Challenges of Multicentric Interaction (Results are discussed in the Penal Discussion)

12:30 - 13:30 Lunch Break

13:30 - 14:30 Third Session

  • Patrick Holthaus (University of Hertfordshire): The Cognitive Service Robotics Apartment (working title)

  • Dietrich Wolter (University of Bamberg): Qualitative Representations for Situated Interaction

14:30 - 15:00 Application Session (Part 1)

  • Matti Krüger (Honda Research Institute Europe GmbH): The Honda Research Institute Living Lab
  • Michael Junker (Miele Cie. KG): tba.
  • Ulrich Johnigk (Bodelschwingh' Foundation Bethel): tba.

15:00 - 15:30 Coffee Break

15:30 - 16:00 Application Session (Part 2)

  • Thorsten Jungeblut (Bielefeld University): The KogniHome Project (working title)

16:00 - 17:00 Panel Discussion with application partners and small work groups

  • Discussion on Future Roadmaps for Smart Homes and Home Robots



Robots "Blending In" - The issue of egocentric robots 

Marc Hanheide (University of Lincoln)
Interactive robots "like" to be in the focus of attention. Indeed, they expect it - or, better - their programmers expect that, and so do most data sets. Today's robots are - in the full meaning of the work - very egocentric, in their behaviour and their expectations of attention paid to them. However, more and more scenarios require interactive robots to blend in, into social situation, the physical environment, and the conversations. The paradigm shift is substantial. From being the default (or only) behaviour to engage to a human, it needs almost become an exception to actively engage. In this talk, I will discuss some lessons learned from long-term deployment of interactive robots in institutional and home care, museums and offices, and discuss issues around understanding human's intention and attention, the choice of interaction modalities, and the chances of adapting to users.

Plug and play your robot into your smart home for adaptable assistive technologies

Nguyen Sao Mai (IMT Atlantique)

The use of assistive robots in smart-homes, to help the elderly live safe and in good health is one of the main social challenges of the next decades. We illustrate such uses through 2 examples. First, robots can coach efficiently and in real-time for physical exercises, owing to imitation learning algorithms. We build an interactive humanoid robot coach based on non-invasive sensors to monitor,  advise and encourage patients going through physical rehabilitation. Our system aims at a plug-and-play system, for physiotherapists and the elderly as end users. Second, the combination of a smart-home and a robot can assist a victim of a fall at home. We illustrate through these examples the potential of a comprehensive system based on both a smart home and a mobile robot, that can communicate through a distributed infrastructure for heterogeneous ambient devices. Thus interoperability of smart-home sensors, actuators and robots is essential for providing personalised services for families and the elderly. We develop a framework enabling the seamless communication between smart-home devices and robots based on the protocol xAAL and the middleware Robot Operating System.

Qualitative Representations for Situated Interaction

Dietrich Wolter (University of Bamberg)

In this presentation I review the contribution of qualitative representations of space to realizing situated interaction with robots and smart environments. A particular focus is put on situated spatial language to reference objects in the environment. While crisp semantics for qualitative representations are adequate for designing robot navigation in human-populated environments, different semantics are required for designing spatial language generation and understanding. We discuss one approach based on probabilistic semantics which we designed for generating and understanding referring expressions.



17 October 2017
Begin time: 
CITEC, tba