Journal of Physical Agents

Children’s responses and opinion on three bots that motivate, educate and play

Rosemarijn Looije, Mark A. Neerincx, Vincent de Lange



Social robots may help children in their daily health-care related activities, such as adherence to diet and exercises of diabetics. Based on a domain and literature study, we specified three support roles with corresponding bot behaviors: motivator, educator and buddy. These behaviors, such as showing attentiveness, could be implemented well in a physical character (the iCat robot), somewhat less well in a virtual character, and least well in a text interface. Twenty-eight to nine years old-children participated in a controlled experiment to evaluate the bots. They proved to value the support roles positively, in particular the buddy role. Objective and subjective data showed that they highly appreciated both the physical and virtual characters (more than the text interface). Furthermore, children proved to interact faster with the character than with the text interface. There is a clear added value of robots compared to conventional text interfaces.


Human-robot interaction; Physical agents; Domotic agents and applications