Invited Speakers

Prof. Kristiina Jokinen

Prof. Kristiina Jokinen is a Senior Researcher at the AI Research Center, AIST Tokyo Waterfront, and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Helsinki. She is a Life Member of Clare Hall at the University of Cambridge, and a Member of the ELLIS network. She was previously an Invited Researcher at ATR Research Labs and Visiting Professor at Doshisha University, Japan. Her research concerns AI-based dialogue modeling, multimodal communication, and human-robot interaction, and she has published widely on these topics. She developed the Constructive Dialogue Model as a general framework for interaction and led the development of WikiTalk, a Wikipedia-based robot dialogue system that won an award for Best Robot Design (Software Category) at ICSR 2017. She has led numerous national and international research projects, including research on trustworthy virtual coaching in the ongoing EU-Japan collaboration project e-VITA. She is on the steering committee of the IWSDS dialogue workshop series and was on the advisory board of the H2020 project EMPATHIC. She has served as Program/Area Chair of leading conferences such as SIGDIAL, COLING, Interspeech, ICMI, IWSDS, ICSR, and IVA.

Conversational AI meets Social Robots – Towards Virtual Coaches for Wellbeing and Smart Aging

In recent years, AI technologies have enabled potentially useful applications in such varied areas as education and entertainment, retail and healthcare, coaching, and assisted living. In these contexts, AI-based social robots can have roles that range from information providers to friendly companions, their design and development yet facing technological and social challenges In this talk I will discuss research and development on virtual robot coaches for well-being and smart aging. I will draw examples from the EU-Japan collaboration project e-VITA (Virtual Coach for Smart Ageing), which aims at AI-based solutions to develop a digital coach which motivates elder adults for healthy and active life, and supports their independence and well-being The focus of the talk is on technologies for conversational AI, knowledge graphs, and multimodal information, but the discussion also concerns issues related to trust, ethics, and long-term interaction between humans and socially competent robots.

Prof. Alessandro Di Nuovo

Prof. Alessandro Di Nuovo is a Professor of Machine Intelligence at Sheffield Hallam University. He received the Laurea (MSc Eng) and the Ph.D. in Informatics Engineering from the University of Catania, Italy, in 2005 and 2009, respectively. At Present, Prof. Di Nuovo is the leader of Technological and Digital Innovation for promoting independent lives at the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre. He is also the leader of the Smart Interactive Technologies research laboratory of the Department of Computing. He is a member of the Executive Group of Sheffield Robotics, an internationally recognized initiative of two Sheffield Universities to support innovative and responsible research in robotics. Prof. Di Nuovo has a track record of externally funded interdisciplinary research and innovation in AI and robotics; he has led several large collaborative research projects funded by the European Union, UK Research Councils, charities, and large industries. His current project includes the MSCA ETN PERSEO on Personalised Robotics as Service-Oriented Applications (2021-2024) and the EPSRC NetworkPlus EMERGENCE: Facilitating the Emergence of Healthcare Robots from Labs into Service (2022-2025). He has published over 120 articles on computational intelligence and its application to cognitive modeling, human-robot interaction, computer-aided assessment of intellectual disabilities, and embedded computer systems. Currently, Prof. Di Nuovo is editor-in-chief (topics AI in Robotics; Human-Robot/Machine Interaction) of the International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems (SAGE). He is also serving as Associate Editor for the IEEE Journal of Translational Engineering in Health and Medicine.

Social Applications of Multimodal Cognitive Robots

Prof. Oliver Korn

Prof. Oliver Korn is a full professor of Human-Computer Interaction at Offenburg University in Germany. There he directs the Affective & Cognitive Institute (ACI) and the OGFLab for start-ups. In 2007, he co-founded the software company KORION. Major research areas are context-aware systems, assistive technologies, social robots, and affective computing. The overall vision is enriching environments with intuitive interfaces and “intelligent” assistive systems, which adapt to the users and the context. Social robots which improve well-being and autonomy in domestic settings and in care settings are a current research focus which also reflects in a science comic on the topic (Social Robots – A Science Comic).

Designing an Emotion-Sensitive Companion Robot for the Elderly

Social robots not only work with humans in collaborative workspaces – they increasingly are required in personal settings like health and care. Does this imply they should become more human, and able to interpret human emotions? Would we want social robots to take care of elderly persons? To answer such questions, we need prototypes to be tested in the field. To that end, a team of researchers and developers from the company KORION is designing a prototype robotic health companion for elderly persons. It measures the heart rate and recognizes emotions based on speech. This allows for providing calming breathing exercises and integrating emotional data into an ecosystem of health experts.