Karon MacLean: Fuzzy Robots with Feelings: Understanding physical emotional communication

Karon MacLean: Fuzzy Robots with Feelings: Understanding physical emotional communication

A Distinguished Lecture from Karon MacLean, Professor & Canada Research Chair at University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

The lecture will take place in TANNA SCHULICH HALL, followed by a wine and cheese reception in the lobby of the Elizabeth Wirth Music Building. This event is free and open to the general public.

We invite you to share this event via Facebook.


For CIRMMT Students wishing to have their attendance tracked for awards eligibility, please make sure to scan the QR code available at the entrance of Tanna Schulich Hall.


We communicate emotion through touch. Information about emotion is present in our touch, deliberately or involuntarily. Sensation and action is intertwined when we fidget or stroke a cat; we touch emotively because of the way the cat moves under our hand. Why does it feel good, to both of you? What part of this can a machine manage? Over the last 10+ years, we’ve been breaking down the challenges into manageable chunks, and putting them back together: the movement, specifying the movement, the sensors, making sense of the touch, wrapping it all into an interactive loop. We’ve learned a lot and gotten help from many directions – emotion psychologists and pediatric therapists, neuroscientists, musicians, theatre and voice actors, materials scientists and chemists, artificial intelligence and machine learning experts. There’s lots more to do.


Karon MacLean is a Professor of Computer Science and Canada Research Chair Tier 1 in Interactive Human Systems Design at UBC, with degrees in Biology and Mechanical Engineering (Stanford, MIT) and time spent as a professional robotics engineer and later, a haptic interaction design researcher.  At UBC since 2000, MacLean's research specializes in haptic (touch) interaction: cognitive, sensory and affective design for people interacting with the computation we touch, emote and move with and learn from, from robots to handheld devices and the situated environment. MacLean leads UBC’s Designing for People interdisciplinary research cluster and grad training program (29 researchers from 11 faculties - dfp.ubc.ca). http://www.cs.ubc.ca/labs/spin