We would like to invite participants with technical, social science and design interests to participate in this one day workshop hosted at NordiCHI, october 19 2008.

Overview | Activities & Outcomes | Themes & Relevance

Workshop themes

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 current research in HRI struggles with some of the difficulties regularly discussed in third wave HCI, e.g.:

  • More focus on technology as resources for human action (instead of e.g. humanoid and zoomorphic technology focus)
  • Exploring physical and bodily interaction and action (versus e.g. language processing and reasoning)
  • Studying interaction from a holistic perspective in realistic settings (versus decontextualised studies e.g. bi-manual interaction, trained motor action, navigation in space)
  • Social, emotional and physical engagement (rather than efficiency and productivity values)

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.


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.

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