Wednesday 19 September 2018

Shaking hands with a robot seals deal


Shaking hands before negotiations results in a better deal for both parties - even when one is represented by a robot.

The act of shaking hands at the start of a conversation has been shown to create better cooperation between humans.

Research has now found these benefits extend when a robot takes the place of a human - who is situated remotely - during a business meeting.

Scientists say using robots provides a powerful two-way experience that allows people to have a physical presence in a distant place.

The study, by the University of Bath, used NAO, a 58-cm-tall humanoid robot, in mock real-estate negotiations.


One person - assigned the role of buyer or seller - was present in the meeting with NAO while the other took part through the robot's inbuilt head camera and microphone.

Touch sensitive sensors in the robot's hand transmitted a signal when it was grasped, leading to a controller in the remote person's hand vibrating at the same time.

The remote person, who could be thousands of miles away and essentially hidden from view, did not exploit their tactical advantage in such conditions.

The study focused on the impact of handshaking on levels of cooperation and trustworthiness.

The virtual handshake created "connectedness" between both people as they experienced the sensation of grasping a hand or vibration through a controller during the handshake.

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