Robots Can Now Recognize Gestures
Voice interaction with computers has slowly been proliferating our daily lives over the past few years. Talking GPS's and now Siri make the idea of conversing with a machine not out of the ordinary. New algorithms developed by researchers at A*STAR Institute for Infocomm Research in Singapore now could help robots to recognize and respond to human gestures.
"Since many social robots will be operated by non-expert users, it is essential for them to be equipped with natural interfaces for interaction with humans," says Rui Yan. "Gestures are an obvious, natural means of human communication. Our LAN gesture recognition system only requires a small amount of training data, and avoids tedious training processes."
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The difficulty in recognizing gestures is that everyone does them differently. In order for a robot, whose is a pre-programmed entity, to successfully recognize them, it must learn to identify general patterns of motion which it can then interpret as individual commands.
The researchers wore a jacket called Shape Tape which uses sensors and fiber optics to monitor gestures that they executed. Five different users wore the jacket and made gestures, of which 99.15% of them were interpreted correctly by the robot.
The next step for Yan and her team will be to create a gesture-recognizing system without the need to wear a special jacket to translate the information to the robot. This will have to involve installing some kind of motion-sensitive cameras.
"Currently we are building a new gesture recognition system by incorporating our method with a Microsoft Kinect camera," says Yan. "We will implement the proposed system on an autonomous robot to test its usability in the context of a realistic service task, such as cleaning!"