Developing a System for and Applications with Full Body Ownership of a Humanoid Robot
Dr. Sameer Kishore
University of Barcelona
It has been shown that with appropriate multisensory stimulation an illusion of owning an artificial object as part of their own body can be induced in people. Such body ownership illusions have been shown to occur with artificial limbs, such as rubber hands, and even entire artificial or virtual bodies. In our research, we aim to apply this phenomenon of full body ownership illusions in the context of humanoid robots, and develop real-world applications where this technology could be beneficial. In this talk, after giving a brief introduction about the concept of body ownership illusions, I will describe the system that we have developed, where a user is embodied in a humanoid robot that is present in a different physical location, and can use this robotic body to interact with the remote environment as if they were physically present in that location. This is carried out by fusing the multisensory data of the visitor with the robot, thereby transforming the visitor’s ‘consciousness’ to the robot’s body. In particular, the focus of the talk will be on one specific application that was developed for the purposes of ‘Tele-Immersive Journalism’ where a combination of virtual reality and robotics was used to beam a physical representation of a journalist from Los Angeles to Barcelona, where they could conduct interviews and moderate a debate among students while embodied in a robot.
Dr. Sameer Kishore is a postdoctoral researcher at the Experimental Virtual Environments for Neuroscience and Technology Lab (EventLab) at the University of Barcelona. His main research deals with human-robot interaction with a specific focus on studying the effects of having an illusion of body ownership over a humanoid robotic body. Dr. Kishore completed his PhD in 2016 at the EventLab, University of Barcelona where he worked on developing systems that allowed him to investigate these implications of body ownership over remotely located robots, and applying this technology to various real-world situations. This multidisciplinary research involved working in technical fields such as robotics, immersive virtual reality, telepresence and computer graphics along with human behavior, perception and cognition. He was awarded a three-year pre-doctorate grant from the Government of Catalonia, Spain for carrying out his PhD and received an additional award for successfully completing and defending his thesis. As part of his doctorate, he worked with state-of-the-art technological systems and carried out several studies, which were published in prestigious peer-reviewed journals and conferences such as IEEE Computer Graphics & Applications and the ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology. One of the applications where his system was successfully used was to simulate teleportation, where a journalist was able to instantly ‘travel’ from Los Angeles to Barcelona and conduct interviews while embodied as a robot. The demonstration was covered heavily in the media, including on the BBC and several Spanish news agencies. Before joining the EventLab, Dr. Kishore completed his Master’s degree in computer graphics and computer vision from University College London, UK and a bachelor’s degree in computer science engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Dubai.