Past Talks

This page contains details from the presentations.


Date: Tuesday 6th of February 

Talk by Mary Ellen Foster

Title: Face-to-Face Conversation with Socially Intelligent Robots

When humans engage in face-to-face conversation, they use their voices, faces, and bodies together in a rich, multimodal, continuous, interactive process. For a robot to participate fully in this sort of natural, face-to-face conversation in the real world, it must also be able not only to understand the multimodal communicative signals of its human partners, but also to produce understandable, appropriate, and natural communicative signals in response. I will describe three recent projects which aim to develop robots that support this sort of conversation: the JAMES socially aware robot bartender, and the MuMMER socially intelligent shopping mall robot, and the SoCoRo training robot for adults with autism.

Dr Mary Ellen Foster is a Lecturer in the School of Computing Science at the University of Glasgow. Her primary research interests are human-robot interaction, social robotics, and embodied conversational agents. She is the coordinator of the MuMMER project, a European Horizon 2020 project in the area of socially aware human-robot interaction. She obtained her PhD from the University of Edinburgh in 2007, and has previously worked at the Technical University of Munich and Heriot-Watt University.


Date:  Tuesday 23rd of January

Title: User centred design in a children’s hospital setting:
challenges and ethical considerations

Speakers: Judy Robertson and Valentina Andries

Summary: In this talk we will describe our work on designing and
evaluating play technology at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in
Edinburgh. The hospital is being rebuilt and part of the plans for the
new building include new technology to support children’s play. We
will reflect on the challenges relating to including children in
research in this sensitive setting, as well as working with multiple
external stakeholders and enter discussion with the audience about the
ethical issues.

Judy Robertson is a Professor in the School of
Education and the Chair of Digital Learning. She is generally interested in methodologies for designing technology with and for children.

Valentina Andries is a PhD student in Education interested in technology for children and user centred approach.


Date:  Tuesday the 14th of November at 4-5 pm in Informatics Forum 

Title: Can People read URLs?

Speaker: Sara Albakry

Summary:  Phishing is one of the most common and expensive cyberattacks worldwide. Despite the effort to automatically detect and block known phishing communications, automated solutions are not fully accurate allowing undetected phishing communications to get through. Therefore, training people to avoid such communications is important.
Within the space of anti-phishing user training, a common advice given to people asks them to make sure that the URL they intend to click on will go to the company they want to visit. We theorize that people have difficulty parsing a URL and therefore can’t accurately predict where a URL could go. To test our theory, we ran an online experiment with 2013 participants from Amazon Mechanical Turk and Prolific Academic, combined; with the aim of answering the question: can people read URLs accurately in optimal conditions In this talk, I will explain the motivation behind this study, the design of the online experiment and preliminary results.


Date: Tuesday 28th of November

Reading group led by Danai Korre

Topic:  Embodied Conversational Agents (ECA)

A short introduction to the topic of ECAs while we tried to answer are some of the following questions:

  • Pros of ECAs
  • Cons of ECAs
  • Industries that use ECAs
  • Why ECAs are used
  • How ECAs are used/roles they have in the interaction.
  • Context of use.