Carnegie Mellon Research Professor Reid Simmons, who serves as faculty advisor to Michalowski, said, "Rhythm is very important in human-human interaction, so it is not surprising that it is so compelling in human-robot interaction."
He explains, "People see Keepon dancing to the music, and it looks so alive to them. Marek's work is addressing the fluidity of interaction that is a hallmark of humans, but is all too often missing from robots."
This oversized Easter peep was first used to study how children interacted socially. The friendly robot has eyes (two video cameras), a nose (microphone), and four motors in its base which can be remotely operated by a therapist in another room, or put on autonomous mode to move to music or surrounding sound. Using Keepon, researchers can objectively observe children's interaction with each other and the robot.
Keepon's simple yet dynamic design opens a space for human-robot interaction (HRI), especially in autism research, where over stimulation causes autistic children to shut down. The robot's minimalism is non-threatening to subjects and provides researchers an up close view of the HRI as well as the interactions between the autistic children.
While R2-D2 & C-3PO certainly need no introduction, if you haven't heard of the fabulously cute Keepon robot, then you must check out its performance in the Spoon music videos "I Turn My Camera On" and "Don't You Evah." (I'm going to pair "famous" robots with actual "robot robots" in these releases.)