Backchannel Opportunity Prediction for Social Robot Listeners


Jin Joo Lee

Jin Joo Lee

HW Park, M Gelsomini, JJ Lee, T Zhu, and C Breazeal (2017). Backchannel Opportunity Prediction for Social Robot Listeners. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA).


This paper investigates how a robot that can produce contingent listener response, i.e., backchannel, can deeply engage children as a storyteller. We propose a backchannel opportunity prediction (BOP) model trained from a dataset of children’s dyad storytelling and listening activities. Using this dataset, we gain better understanding of what speaker cues children can decode to find backchannel timing, and what type of nonverbal behaviors they produce to indicate engagement status as a listener. Applying our BOP model, we conducted two studies, within- and between-subjects, using our social robot platform, Tega. Behavioral and self-reported analyses from the two studies consistently suggest that children are more engaged with a contingent backchanneling robot listener. Children perceived the contingent robot as more attentive and more interested in their story compared to a non-contingent robot. We find that children significantly gaze more at the contingent robot while storytelling and speak more with higher energy to a contingent robot. 

Related Content