Living with Robots and Interactive Companions

Long-term relations with non-human entities

Throughout the four year time span of this project, we will conduct a number of human-centered studies with a range of different commercial and research based technologies. Initially, the studies will focus on what motivates an individual to keep long-term interests in non-human entities (e.g. pets, plants and commercial products such as Pleo). The overall aim is to produce guidelines for companion technology, and to explore higher-level issues relating to human-companion interaction. Since our focus is on long-term companion relationships, we will seek out realistic environments where there is an opportunity to introduce of novel technology, and where the effects can be effectively studied and understood. This work will result in preliminary guidelines for later studies as well as for new technology development. Overall, we will strive for a user-centred design approach and use an iterative process.

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Number of items: 19.

Aylett, Ruth and Kriegel, Michael and Wallace, Iain and Márquez Segura, Elena and Mercurio, Johanna and Nylander, Stina (2013) Memory and the Design of Migrating Virtual Agent. In: AAMAS 2013.

Nylander, Stina and Ljungblad, Sara and Jiménes Villarreal, Javier (2012) A complementing approach for identifying ethical issues in care robotics – grounding ethics in practical use. In: Proceedings of 21st IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication, 2012.

Ljungblad, Sara and Kotrbova, Jirina and Jacobsson, Mattias and Cramer, Henriette and Niechwiadowicz, Karol (2012) Hospital robot at work: something alien or an intelligent colleague? In: Proceedings of the ACM 2012 conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 13-15 Feb 2012, Seattle, WA, USA.

Jacobsson, Mattias and Nylander, Stina (2012) Always-On + Adoption – a method for longitudinal studies. In: CHI Workshop on Theories, Methods and Case Studies of Longitudinal HCI Research.

Keysermann, Matthias and Enz, Sibylle and Cramer, Henriette and Aylett, Ruth and Vargas, Patricia (2012) Can I trust you? Sharing information with artificial companions. In: AAMAS 2012.

Márquez Segura, Elena and Cramer, Henriette and Gomes, Paulo and Nylander, Stina (2012) Revive! Reactions to migration between different embodiments when playing with robotic pets. In: IDC'12. (In Press)

Tsui, Katherine M. and Desaj, Munjal and Yanco, Holly Y. and Cramer, Henriette and Kempe, Nicander (2011) Measuring Attitudes Towards Telepresence Robots. International journal of intelligent Control and Systems, 16 (2). pp. 113-123.

Jiménes Villarreal, Javier and Ljungblad, Sara (2011) Experience Centred Design for a Robotic Eating Aid. In: HRI 2011.

Cramer, Henriette and Büttner, Sebastian (2011) Things that Tweet, Check-In and are Befriended. Two Explorations on Robotics & Social Media. In: HRI 2011, 6-9 March 2011, Lausanne, Switzerland.

Gomes, Paolo Fontaínha and Márquez Segura, Elena and Cramer, Henriette and Paiva, Tiago and Paiva, Ana and Holmquist, Lars Erik (2011) ViPleo and PhyPleo: Artificial pet with two embodiments. ACE 2011 .

Jacobsson, Mattias and Cramer, Henriette (2011) Universal Robots as ‘Solutions’ to Wicked Problems: Debunking a Robotic Myth, Late breaking abstract, HRI’11, Lausanne, Switzerland. In: HRI'11.

Ljungblad, Sara and Nylander, Stina and Nørgaard, Mie (2011) Beyond Speculative Ethics in HRI? Ethical Considerations and the Relation to Empirical Data. In: HRI 2011.

Jacobsson, Mattias and Fernaeus, Ylva and Tieben, Rob (2010) The Look, the Feel and the Action: Making Sets of ActDresses for Robotic Movement. In: Designing for Interactive Systems 2010, 16-20 Aug 2010, Aarhus, Denmark.

Fernaeus, Ylva and Håkansson, Maria and Jacobsson, Mattias and Ljungblad, Sara (2010) How do you Play with a Robotic Toy Animal? A long-term study of Pleo. In: Interaction Design and Children 2010, 9-12 June 2010, Barcelona, Spain.

Jacobsson, Mattias (2009) Play, Belief and Stories about Robots: A Case Study of a Pleo Blogging Community. In: RO-MAN 2009, 27 Sept - 2 Oct 2009, Toyama, Japan.

Fernaeus, Ylva (2009) Human Action and Experience As Basis for the Design and Study of Robotic Artefacts. In: RO-MAN 2009: 18th IEEE International Symposim on Robot and Human Interactive Communication, 27 Sept - 2 Oct 2009, Toyama, Japan.

Jacobsson, Mattias (2009) Fragments of Companionship – Design Insights From a Blog Study. In: The reign of catz & dogz at CHI 2009, Boston, USA. (Unpublished)

Fernaeus, Ylva and Jacobsson, Mattias (2009) Comics, robots, fashion and programming: outlining the concept of actDresses. In: Tangible and Embedded Interaction (TEI'09), 16-18 Feb 2009, Cambridge, UK.

Fernaeus, Ylva and Jacobsson, Mattias and Ljungblad, Sara and Holmquist, Lars Erik (2009) Are we living in a robot cargo cult? In: 4th ACM/IEEE international Conference on Human Robot interaction, 9-13 March 2009, La Jolla, California, USA.

This list was generated on Sun Aug 25 10:49:40 2019 CEST.

We have recently conducted a long-term study of Pleo as a robotic companion. Pleo is a robotic baby dinosaur that is one of the more sophisticated consumer products designed to simulate real life-like behaviour in the form of an ‘electronic pet’. Six Swedish families have each have been taking care of a Pleo, the earliest since September 2008. Each family has been equipped with a video camera and a personal web blog as a way to share their personal accounts of what it means to them to have Pleo in their household. Each family is also being interviewed about their use. The purpose of the study is twofold: to learn more about Pleo as a long-term robotic companion in an everyday, natural and human-centred context such as the home, and to explore how to perform long-term studies in home environments. The collected material is under analysis, but preliminary results show that after the initial enthusiasm, Pleo is treated like another toy and is used in children’s pretended play in a similar way to other toys, e.g. teddy bears. However, a clear insight from the study is that batteries are a fundamental problem since they destroy the illusion of Pleo as a “living entity” as well as make playing more difficult. Results from these studies are described in more detail in the following publications:

Jacobsson, M., (2009), "Play, belief and stories about robots: A case study of a pleo blogging community". Robot and Human Interactive Communication, 2009. RO-MAN 2009. The 18th IEEE International Symposium on, (2009), 232-237.

Jacobsson, M., (2009), ”Fragments of Companionship – design insights from a blog study”) presenting preliminary results from a qualitative study of Pleo owners’ blogs, will be presented at the “Reign of Catz & Dogz” ( workshop at CHI 2009 (


The ethics theme involves contributions from all LIREC-partners regarding current views on ethics with related to the research. Some of the activities we have organized were joint investigations involving all or several partners. Among other things, this has resulted in an update of each of the submitted scenarios with a section concerning ethics. All partners have also further participated in a questionnaire about ethics (reported below) during the autumn of 2008, in which we have analysed the current views on ethics with regards to the research in LIREC.


Fernaeus, Y., Jacobsson, M., Ljungblad, S., and Holmquist, L. E. 2009. Are we living in a robot cargo cult?. In Proceedings of the 4th ACM/IEEE international Conference on Human Robot interaction (La Jolla, California, USA, March 09 - 13, 2009). HRI '09. ACM, New York, NY, 279-280

Abstract: This short paper brings up the need in our field for an awareness of and a discussion about how social and cultural factors influence how we look upon robots and their potential role in our society, and why this is important to the design of robotic companions for everyday life.



Robots of varying shapes and sizes are slowly gaining popularity in daily life. Examples of recent consumer products range from iRobot’s Looj gutter cleaner to Pleo, a robotic pet dinosaur. Research also contributes to growth in this area, giving focus to industrial robots, service robots and interactive sculptural artworks, to list but a few broad areas. Indeed, many of the latest robotic appliances appear to present entirely new possibilities for human-machine interaction.

Given this backdrop, this workshop will focus on how to relate current theories and practices in HCI with the developments in robotics and human-robot interaction. Contributions will be encouraged that address a broad range of themes including but not limited to the roles of embodiment, sustainable interaction, and contextual and social factors.
Participants will be asked to give emphasis to topics that are commonly absent in mainstream HCI such as machine movement, autonomy, anthropomorphism, embodied affect, sensor and actuator interaction, environmental issues and issues concerned more generally with the physical form and aesthetics of machines.

Relevance to the field

Contemporary research into robotics and HRI have several interesting intersections with current HCI research focusing on user- and experience-oriented issues (e.g. Bødker, 2006; Harrison, Tatar et al. 2007), part of third wave HCI.

Interacting with robot technology makes explicit some of the topics that have become increasingly discussed in HCI in recent years, including aesthetics, affective, embodied action, mobility, and situated and contextual aspects of human activity. These developments appear particularly relevant vis-à-vis robotics, as it seems much of the current research in HRI suffers from some of the difficulties regularly criticised in third wave HCI, e.g.:

  • Interaction viewed largely as a matter of mimicking human-human communication, with focus on humanoid and zoomorphic technology;
  • User studies concerned primarily with psychological factors, language processing, reasoning and affect;
  • Technology explorations solely focused on de-contextualised (inter)action (e.g., bi-manual interaction, trained motor action, navigation in space, etc.);
  • Research primarily targeting application domains where efficiency and productivity are paramount rather than examining a broader range of reasons for participating in activity.

As well as building on the developments in third wave HCI (and with the obvious association the NordiCHI conference has with Scandinavia), we will also encourage workshop participants to draw and reflect on robotics and HRI with respect to the now established “Scandinavian tradition” of HCI. By the Scandinavian tradition, we refer to practices such as participatory design (e.g. Ehn 1988), the increased acknowledgement of HCI as a design-oriented field of study (Fällman 2003; Löwgren and Stolterman 2004), and the view of interactive systems as part in a larger activity framework (e.g. Bødker 1991; Kaptelinin and Cole 2002).

In short, we hope the workshop to bring together some of the established and increasingly popular areas of HCI with recent trends in robotics. Not only do we see this as a means to directly contribute to HRI, but also as a way to reflect on HCI and its evolving status as a progressive research field.

Outcome of the workshop

Primarily, through contributions from a diverse range of participants, the aim of this workshop is to open up a space for taking robot design seriously in HCI. As we have noted, we will encourage participants to reflect on where recent developments in HCI intersect with HRI and how such intersections might lead to new research possibilities. An additional goal is to further cement the community of researchers undertaking related work on robotics and everyday life.

More practically, the workshop should provide an understanding of a selection of methods and techniques that can be used to design robots and other actuated physical interactive artefacts from a user-centred or experience-centred perspective. This includes approaches of participatory design, industrial design, as well as existing technical approaches to robot design.

Description of activities planned
Morning session with presentations of position papers and afternoon session with group discussions on themes extracted from the position paper presentations. Discussions will be encouraged on theoretical and methodological aspects of physical and embodied interaction, e.g.:

  • Methods that specifically address the design of physical interaction
  • User-centred design of robotic products, how and why?
  • Studies of interaction with moving physical artefacts
  • Potential areas for novel robotic services or products
  • How robotic movement and behaviour affect interaction and experience
  • How physical appearance of technology affects interaction and experience
  • The role of anthropomorphism why it might be important for design
  • Social and spontaneous action around or with robots

The workshop will end with group work presentations and discussion of potential developments that are found especially relevant. The exact structure for presentations and group activities will be set nearer to the date of the workshop.


Bødker, S. (1991). Activity theory as a challenge to systems design. Information Systems Research: Contemporary Approaches and Emergent Traditions. H. Nissen, H. Klein and R. Hirschheim, North Holland: 551-564.

Bødker, S. (2006). When second wave HCI meets third wave challenges. NordiCHI 2006, Oslo, Norway, ACM.

DiSalvo, C., F. Gemperle, et al. (2003). The Hug: An Exploration of Robotic Form for Intimate Communication. RO-MAN 03.

Ehn, P. (1988). Work-Oriented Design of Computer Artifacts, Arbetslivscentrum.

Fällman, D. (2003). Design-oriented Human-Computer Interaction. CHI2003, ACM Press.

Harrison, S., D. Tatar, et al. (2007). The Three Paradigms of HCI. alt.chi.

Kaptelinin, V. and M. Cole (2002). Individual and Collective Activities in Educational Computer Game Playing. CSCL2: Carrying Forward the Conversation. T. Koschman, R. Hall and N. Miyake, Lawrence Erlbaum.

Löwgren, J. and E. Stolterman (2004). Thoughtful Interaction Design, MIT Press.

Suchman, L. (1987). Plans and Situated Actions, Cambridge University Press.

Ueki, A., M. Kamata, et al. (2007). Tabby: designing of coexisting entertainment content in everyday life by expanding the design of furniture. Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology, ACE '07.