Autom is the Supportive Robocoach

If you’re looking for a friendly, supportive influence in your pursuit of health, you might want to have a look at Autom.

Alright, I’m not here to tell you to lose weight. Whether weight loss is tied to health is a whole other can of worms. Whether you’re looking to slim down or just start eating healthier, the folks at Automata have created Autom, a robot that can help you on your journey.

Autom is a robot equipped with a touch screen and a personality of its own, which will hold conversations and interact with you just like a real human being. The upside is that Autom will probably be a lot more consistent with the tracking of data and encouragement, and probably less fierce if you fail to meet your goals.

I think that this idea can work out. The main thing I’m concerned about is the interaction aspect. At the time, Autom is looking quite approachable and isn’t too mechanical to accept. However, the voice is still quite mechanical and takes away from the realism and expressiveness of this character. I think that this is the first thing that needs to be addressed, because no one really likes talking to a machine over a person! Also, it would be cool if the conversation didn’t involve actually putting the calorie count or meals into the touchscreen, but rather just have Autom interpret the data herself and input it into her archives. I think it’s reasonable to expect improvements in this aspect, so I’m not too worried.

Secondly, the eyes are kind of bizarre. I understand that eye contact is key for interactions, but Autom is going to have to either start blinking or start wandering her eyes because I’m not sure a stare would exactly convey the friendly image that Automata wants to send.

Automata's Autom

All in all, I think that Autom isn’t too far a stretch for human to robot interaction. Face it, we all interact with YMCA machines or online calorie counters if we are trying to keep count of our food, so I can definitely see Autom being an improvement over these things. If WiiFit was used as much as it was, I’m sure people will be willing to try Autom and perhaps even have fun while losing weight.

If you liked Autom, have a look at Humanoid Robots playing Kinect and the Real Terminator Hand.

Via: IEEE Spectrum