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Yale's Scassellati gets Microsoft 'breakthrough research award' for robotics
Date:5/27/2008

New Haven, Conn. Brian Scassellati, associate professor of computer science at Yale, has received an A. Richard Newton Breakthrough Research Award from Microsoft to design programs that will allow robots to understand the prosody or rhythms, patterns and intonation of speech so that they can be more effective in their interactions with humans.

As technology is embracing so-called social robots, research is expanding in the field of human-robot interaction (HRI). To explore some of the challenges in realizing the potential of HRI, Microsoft Research launched the Robots Among Us initiative last October with the bold declaration: The robots are coming!

Scassellati will share $500,000 with seven other investigators worldwide who received awards for work on HRI. His grant will fund development of prosody-recognition software, which will allow untrained users to provide feedback to a robot in human-robot interactions.

Its not what you say, it is how you say it, said Scassellati. Vocal prosody is the information contained in your tone of voice that conveys affect. It is a critical part of human-human communication that we hope to translate to humanrobot interactions.

Robots must be able to understand these indirect cues if they are going to have independent social interactions with humans, says Scassellati, who is studying how humans develop these skills for clues to how to recreate that ability in robots.

Infants pay attention to the tone of your voice your dog does it too the words don't matter. It has to do with the pitch, the cadence, the tone, said Scassellati. Infants only a few days old differentiate happy, consoling, and concerned voices regardless of the language being spoken. This is an incredibly useful tool for knowing when we are doing something right or doing something wrong. It would be useful for robots
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Contact: Janet Rettig Emanuel
janet.emanuel@yale.edu
203-432-2157
Yale University
Source:Eurekalert

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