Public engagment at the Bristol Mini Maker Faire

Researchers from the Bristol Robotics Laboratory took part in the Bristol Mini Maker Faire held at @Bristol on Saturday 22 August.  The faire is a  free family friendly celebration of arts, crafts, science, technology and engineering. 

Paul Bremner and Peter Gibbons from the BRL brought their NAO robot to the event and visitors were able to talk to each other via the NAO robot using remote presence and communication.  NAO was able to copy its controller's arm and head motion (using a Microsoft Kinect), and relay sound (using headphones) and vision (using an Oculus Rift), so the controller had embodied communication. 

Miriam Koschate-Reis from the department of Psychology at the University of Exeter was also present. As part of the Being There project, Miriam is looking at social influence in public places. More specifically, she examines whether synchronisation of subtle movements with other humans – face-to-face or via a robot platform – improves social cohesion, trust and cooperation, and under which conditions synchronised movement spreads from person to person.

The researchers met hundreds of people during the day and were able to talk about their individual research, the aims of the Being There project, and hear how the public felt about the prospect of robots entering our lives and how public space has changed.  A few photos of the day are shown below. 

Photo 1: Three friends chatting, two in person and the third remotely via the NAO robot.

Friends chatting using the Nao robot at the Mini Maker Faire


Photo 2:  explaining to a family how remote presence operates.

Paul Bremner and Miriam Koschate-Reis at the Mini Maker Faire in Bristol


Photo 3: Paul Bremner showing how the Oculus Rift gives the robot controller a view through the robots eyes.

Paul Bremner showing the Oculus Rift to a family at the Mini Maker Faire


The Being There project team, composed of researchers and creative practitioners, will be out and about at other public space events in 2016.  If you would like to hear more about these events please sign up to our mailing list.