A study by researchers in Tampere University in Finland have predicted that making eye contact with a robot can have the same effect as making eye contact with another person—concluding a smooth transition.
"Our results indicate that the non-linguistic, interaction-regulating cues of social robots can affect humans in the same way as similar cues presented by other people. Interestingly, we respond to signals that have evolved over the course of evolution to regulate human interaction even when these signals are transmitted by robots. Such evidence allows us to anticipate that as robot technology develops, our interaction with the social robots of the future may be surprisingly seamless," says doctoral researcher Helena Kiilavuori.
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"The results were quite astonishing for us, too, because our previous results have shown that eye contact only elicits the reactions we perceived in this study when the participants know that another person is actually seeing them. For example, in a video conference, eye contact with the person on the screen does not cause these reactions if the participant knows that his or her own camera is off, and the other person is unable to see him or her. The fact that eye contact with a robot produces such reactions indicates that even though we know the robot is a lifeless machine, we treat it instinctively as if it could see us. As if it had a mind which looked at us," says Professor of Psychology Jari Hietanen, director of the project.
Source: Science Daily