Various personal interests and public info, gesture, signs, language, social robotics, healthcare, innovation, music, publications, etc.

Month: November 2008 Page 1 of 3

Karen Pine on Gesture and Children

Karen Pine gave a Gesture lecture at the MPI Nijmegen, entitled ‘More than I can say…’ Why gestures are key to children’s development.

Abstract: My interest in gesture came from testing children in a cognitive domain and realizing that they knew far more than they could say. I found I could get a better idea about what they knew from looking at their gestures, rather than listening to their speech. Children’s early, emerging or implicit knowledge emerges in gesture before it appears in speech and I will show how my research went on to try and capture this. I will also address the role that gestures play in children’s language – both in helping them to access the mental lexicon and to understand speech input that requires pragmatic comprehension. Finally our current work with infants, the first longitudinal study of its kind, is looking at how gestural input affects language development and I will present some preliminary findings from this study.


Karen Pine

Karen Pine

It was an interesting lecture with some nice results. Some of my personal observations:

  • Pine’s work seems to be strongly connected to Susan Goldin-Meadow‘s work together with Church, Alibali, and Singer: Gesture as a window of the mind of children. What do they know, what is their zone of proximal development (my interpretation), etc.
  • Pine used the Noldus Observer to annotate the speech and gesture in the video (and not Elan).
  • Pine also revisited Krauss’ lexical access hypothesis of why people gesture. She elicited tip-of-the-tongue states (ToTs)  in a gesture allowed and a gesture prohibited condition. In the gesture allowed condition kids resolved more ToTs. Jan Peter de Ruiter, JP, mentioned it would be better to look at whether kids actually made gesture when they resolved ToTs or not. He found that gestures ocurred more often when a ToT was not resolved. He suggested, referring to his 2006 paper, that people gesture in ToTs because they wish to communicate that they are (still) working on it, and not to aid their memory search. 
  • Idea to test JP’s suggestion: ToT can be elicited with picture naming task, Pine found iconic gestures to be enactments, which fits JP’s suggestion that people are communicating, because it is complementary information. So, if you would elicit ToT with a mime of an object’s action, then you might expect the iconic gestures, if any, to be depictments instead of enactments.

Robot competitions

Here are a few examples of robot competitions that are quite entertaining:

The ROBO ONE competition is ‘biped robot entertainment’ (official site). It highlights agility, balance and motion. They are remote controlled but to some extent, in the microcontrol of the movement, autonomous.

12th KondoCup Robot Soccer competition (Source: Robots Dreams). These robots also feature in the ROBO ONE competition.

The Micromouse competition: speed, accuracy, search algorithms, navigation. They get a first run to explore the maze and then ‘speed runs’ to set their best time for the fastest route they found.

David Calkins explains Humanoid Robots

Here are two robot guys, Patrick Norton and David Calkins, discussing the reasons behind the competitions with biped humanoid robots (Source: Robots Dreams). It is a bit long but it is a good overview of the important issues. They also discuss proprioception which ties into the discussions about robots and embodied cognition.

Robot Man: Marcel Heerink at HvA

Another interesting author on social robotics is Marcel Heerinkk, who works at the HvA, Instituut voor Information Engineering. He has been doing PhD work on robotics and elderly people. Practically all his publications are together with three UvA people: Ben Kröse (IS lab), Bob Wielinga, and Vanessa Evers (both HCS lab). Kröse is also lector at the HvA, lectorate Digital Life. They have done research with iCat.

Robot Man: Christoph Bartneck at TU/e

Another strong author on robotics in the Netherlands is Christoph Bartneck. He works at the TU/e, faculty of Industrial Design, sub-department Designed Intelligence (which is only slightly less scary than intelligent design). His list of publications on robotics is very impressive. Recently, there are a couple together with Mathias Rauterberg, the prof who heads the DI group, but these are not specifically about robots.

Through his publications, I found out there is a conference called ACM/IEEE international conference on Human robot interaction (yearly since 2006). Proceedings here. Quite a lot of interesting papers there.

Robot Champions in the Ring

There are plenty of robot championships, and one of the more famous ones is ROBO-ONE. In this fight you can see some of the champions in a tag-team wrestling match. Good fun! Wish I could understand Japanese though…

Pleo, the baby robot dino


I really like what they did with this dino. It does not actually do much, thereby leaving all the more room to project all sorts of ideas into it. It must be scared, sleepy, afraid, etc.

I-Qbot, a course in robotics for 700 euro

Here is Albert van Breemen’s final movie of the i-Qbot:

Some people on forums are complaining about the i-Qbot: it appears to be quite hard to program and it doesn’t do much on its own. Van Breemen emphasizes the great learning experience. Looking at the ‘end result video’, I can imagine both views.

Albert van Breemen, Robot Man at Philips

There is a very good dutch blogger, called Albert van Breemen, on I got to him when I was checking out the i-QBOT, which he reviewed extensively.

From his About: Albert van Breemen is a Senior Projectleader at Philips Research Laboratories Eindhoven, The Netherlands. He received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Twente (Enschede, The Netherlands). His thesis describes an agent-based software architecture for integrating multiple control algorithms into an overall well performing system and it has been applied to systems such as room thermostats and mobile robots. In 2001 he started working at Philips Research where he has been active for almost 5 years in the field of Ambient Intelligence. He is the motivator behind the robotic research activities at Philips Research and he is a pioneer on robot middleware architectures and human-robot interaction research. In 2004 he initiated the development of the iCat user-interface robot, which he turned into a commercial product one year later. The iCat user-interface robot is sold to universities and research laboratories in order to stimulate human-robot interaction research. His current focus is on setting up a worldwide iCat Research Community and preparing the development of a robotic consumer product. In 2005 Time Magazine labelled the iCat as one of “The Coolest Inventions”. From 2004 till 2006 Albert van Breemen helped establishing the EUropean Robotics Platform (EUROP) and he did hold the Service Robotics chair within the Executive Board of EUROP.

G-Speak from Oblong Industries

g-speak overview 1828121108 from john underkoffler on Vimeo.

Oblong Industries created the UI from Minority Report that the people involved had been working on for the movie. It has the same majestic feeling about it as in the movie, although these are not demi-gods with Tom Cruise standards of control. Interesting, yet the question remains how a man will learn these actions and how often the technology will make mistakes. If G-Speak listens to your gestures as well as current speech recognition listens to your voice, there will be a lot of error handling.

On Gizmodo

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