Robot ‘Baby’ Helps Researchers Prove Babies Actively Elicit Smiles From People Watching

Published by , September 28, 2015 11:10 am

(TechTimes) — Researchers believe that when babies smile, it’s not just to react, but rather to make the person watching smile in return. “They’re not just smiling randomly. But proving this is difficult,” said Javier Movellan, a cognitive scientist from the Machine Perception Laboratory at U.C. San Diego. To prove the notion, University of San Diego scientists programmed a robot named Diego-San to behave like a baby and simulate how babies smile. Interacting with student volunteers during individual 30-minute sessions, the robot elicited lots of smiles – with little effort.

The robot’s behavior was patterned after those of babies from a previous study, which observed the face-to-face interactions of 13 pairs of mothers and babies under 4 months of age. From the control theory data analysis, they discovered that 11 of 13 babies showed clear signs of intentional smiling. “They are active game players with their own agenda, rather than passive responders to what mom does,” Movellan added.

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