Leila Takayama, “Designing for In-the-Moment Interactions with Robotic Agents”

We encounter and interact with robotic agents every day when withdrawing cash from ATMs, driving cars with anti-lock brakes, and tuning our thermostats. In the moment of those interactions, we behave in ways that do not necessarily align with our belief that these are just plain machines. Through a combination of controlled experiments and field studies, this talk will examine how people actually interact with (and through) robotic agents. From these studies, we will draw out directions for explorations into the largely uncharted design spaces of human-robot interactions and robotic telepresence.

Leila Takayama is a research scientist and manager at Willow Garage in the area of human-robot interaction. With a background in cognitive science, psychology, and human-computer interaction, her current focus is understanding human encounters with robots in terms of how they perceive, understand, feel about, and interact with robots. Among other things, she is working on teaching the robots some manners. This year, she was named one of the Tech Review’s 35 innovators under 35 as well as one of Fast Company’s 100 most creative people in business.

Her research interests include embodied cognition and the social and cognitive psychology of interacting with non-human agents. She studies how people come to feel that their tools are invisible-in-use (e.g., tele-operated robots) and potentially change their perspectives on the world. She also studies how people engage with non-human agents (e.g., autonomous robots). Though her primary method of inquiry is controlled experiments, she is constantly expanding her methodological toolkit by learning and using field studies, surveys, interviews, archival studies, etc., depending upon what is most effective for addressing the research questions at hand.

Dr. Takayama completed her Ph.D. in the Communication between Humans and Interactive Media (CHIMe) lab at Stanford University in 2008, advised by Professor Clifford Nass. She also holds a Ph.D. minor in psychology from Stanford, an M.A. in communication from Stanford, and B.A.s in psychology and cognitive science from UC Berkeley (2003). During her graduate studies, she was a research assistant in the User Interface Research (UIR) group at Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Her thesis, Throwing Voices: Investigating the Psychological Effects of the Spatial Location of Projected Voices, won the Nathan Maccoby outstanding dissertation award. Before joining Willow Garage, she was a research scientist at Nokia Research Center.