An Abstraction Layer Exploiting Voice Assistant Technologies for Effective Human—Robot Interaction

Ruben Alonso, Emanuele Concas, Diego Reforgiato Recupero
2021 Applied Sciences  
A lot of people have neuromuscular problems that affect their lives leading them to lose an important degree of autonomy in their daily activities. When their disabilities do not involve speech disorders, robotic wheelchairs with voice assistant technologies may provide appropriate human–robot interaction for them. Given the wide improvement and diffusion of Google Assistant, Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana, Amazon's Alexa, etc., such voice assistant technologies can be fully integrated and
more » ... ploited in robotic wheelchairs to improve the quality of life of affected people. As such, in this paper, we propose an abstraction layer capable of providing appropriate human–robot interaction. It allows use of voice assistant tools that may trigger different kinds of applications for the interaction between the robot and the user. Furthermore, we propose a use case as a possible instance of the considered abstraction layer. Within the use case, we chose existing tools for each component of the proposed abstraction layer. For example, Google Assistant was employed as a voice assistant tool; its functions and APIs were leveraged for some of the applications we deployed. On top of the use case thus defined, we created several applications that we detail and discuss. The benefit of the resulting Human–Computer Interaction is therefore two-fold: on the one hand, the user may interact with any of the developed applications; on the other hand, the user can also rely on voice assistant tools to receive answers in the open domain when the statement of the user does not enable any of the applications of the robot. An evaluation of the presented instance was carried out using the Software Architecture Analysis Method, whereas the user experience was evaluated through ad-hoc questionnaires. Our proposed abstraction layer is general and can be instantiated on any robotic platform including robotic wheelchairs.
doi:10.3390/app11199165 doaj:0cff63d6ec1d41d5959704498f9ea501 fatcat:nrkl6kiog5e53mwsmetkqdi26m