Research Area

The wHiSPER project comes from the idea of Alessandra Sciutti to study the development of perception during social interaction within the COgNitive Architecture for Collaborative Technologies (CONTACT) Unit of IIT.

The approach of the unit is human-centric, trying to study both Human-Human and Human-Robot Interaction also from an interdisciplinary point of view. In this respect, implementing robots is not the only aim of the unit: they are both used as tools for quantitative analysis of human interaction and to increase the readiness and effectiveness of human-robot collaboration. A better understaning of the bases of interaction and the realization of more intuitive and adaptive robots will facilitate the adoption of collaborative technologies, in particular by the weak components of our society who might benefit more of their use.


Currently the ideas behind the project
have been presented in the following talks:

  • Keynote at the AIR project kick-out meeting - Skӧvde, Sweden, 19-20 March 2019. Title: “Robot & Humans: from mutual understanding to interaction and trust

  • Keynote at the Cognitive Science Arena 2019 - Bressanone, Italy, 15-16 February 2019. Title: “Future challenges in cognitive science: The new frontier of human robot interaction

  • Invited talk at The 1st International Symposium on Symbiotic Intelligent Ststems (SISReC) - Osaka, Japan, 25 January 2019. Title:"Intutitive understanding between humans and robots".

  • Invited talk at the series of events "Disegni, Invenzioni e Macchine"  ("Drawings, Inventions and Machines") at Palazzo Ducale, Genoa, Italy, 16th January 2019. Title: "Robots that help understand themselves" (Robot che aiutano… a comprendere l'uomo, in Italian).

  • Presentation "wHiSPER - Investigating Human Shared Perception with Robots" to the ISCIT (Istituto Superiore di Studi in Tecnologie dell'Informazione e della Comunicazione) students, Genoa, Italy, December 7, 2018.

  • Invited talk at the Festival Dell’Eccellenza al Femminile – Genoa, Italy, 20 November 2018. Title: “Communication in the robot era” (“Comunicazione al tempo dei robot”, in Italian).

  • Invited talk at the SICSA Workshop on Cyber Physical Systems – Edinburgh, UK, 16 November 2018. Title: “Mutual understanding for better human-robot interaction”.

  • Keynote at the World Usability Day – Turin, Italy, 8 November 2018. Title: “More Humane Robots” (“Robot piu’ umani”, in Italian).

  • Invited Talk at Skövde University, Skövde, Sweden - October 23, 2018. Title: “Action and Perception in HRI”.

  • Keynote at the workshop BODIS: The utility of body, interaction and self learning at IROS 2018 - Madrid, Spain, October 2018.


  • Workshop Paper

    Gonzalez Billandon J., Grasse L., Sciutti A., Tata M., Rea F., Cognitive Architecture for Joint Attentional Learning of word-object mapping with a Humanoid Robot.
    Workshop on Deep Probabilistic Generative Models for Cognitive Architecture in Robotics, IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) 2019, Macao, China, November 8, 2019

    This work proposes a cognitive architecture supporting the establishment of a joint understanding of the world between the human and the robot, through the learning of object – word mappings during interaction.

  • Conference Paper

    2019 Barros P., Wermter S., Sciutti A., Towards Learning How to Properly Play UNO with the iCub Robot.
    The 9th Joint IEEE International Conference on Development and Learning and on Epigenetic Robotics (ICDL-EPIROB 2019) Oslo, Norway
    Download full-text here.

    Establishing shared understanding with others entails being able to comprehend and adapt to their status both at the individual and at the group level. In this position short paper we propose to develop a hybrid neural framework for learning proper affective responses with an iCub robot in a competitive group game scenario

  • Conference Paper

    2019 Tanevska A., Rea F., Sandini G., Canamero L., Sciutti A., Eager to Learn vs. Quick to Complain? How a socially adaptive robot architecture performs with different robot personalities.
    IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics

    Robots that are aware of our needs (perceptual, motor or social) and adapt to them have the potential of creating a personalized and effective human-like interaction.  In this paper we explore how the very same adaptive architecture would be affected by different sets of parameters, i.e. by implementing the same adaptive framework with different robot personalities.

  • Conference Paper

    2019 Goyal G., Noceti N., Sciutti A., Odone F., The role of ego vision in view-invariant action recognition.
    The 4th International Workshop on egocentric perception, interaction and computing at CVPR 2019 Long Beach, CA
    Download full-text here.

    A crucial step for machines to establish shared perception with their human partners is to understand how to map action understanding across different visual perspectives. In this extended abstract we explore affinities and differences between ego and allo (or third-person) vision and we leverage transfer learning in Convolutional Neural Networks to demonstrate capabilities and limitations of an implicitly learnt view-invariant representation for action recognition.

ERC Starting Grant
Principal Investigator: Alessandra Sciutti
Period: 3/2019- 2/2024. G.A: 804388

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