In “Robot-Mediated Communication,” Susan Herring discussed telepresence robot-mediated communication and key technological properties of telepresence robots. She also evaluated the robots’ advantages and disadvantages, leaving some questions that can be explored by future studies.
According to Susan, telepresence robots can be applied in business, educational, medical, and social contexts. They can also be used in security and high-risk operations such as surveillance and mining. However, Susan also discussed a lot of shortcoming of this technology. Network problems would lead to unsynchronized audio and video streams or lose of connectivity. “The pilot may misgauge social distance due to a lack of depth perception and position the robot too close or too far away from an interlocutor; may talk too loudly, owing to a lack of audio feedback; or may linger too long after a conversation, owing to missed social cues”. People should understand the robot’s technological limitations, otherwise they would interpret these behaviors as socially inappropriate or rude on the part of the pilot. She also pointed out that limited range of vision is a big disadvantage of the robot, but it can be improved by having some head cameras include a zoom feature, and some pan and tilt.
Susan compared RMC with CMC at the beginning, making an analogy to help people better understand the term. She explained the properties clearly in different paragraphs with subtitles, which is easy to read. Embodiment, size, movement, audio and video, and message transmission, these properties have explained in details. There is an interesting idea that people who think of the robot as person and a social actor or view the robot as machine would treat the robot differently, having distinct attitude and behavior. Finally, the article mentioned that “subtle cues that are normally exchanged via faze face-to-face are not available in RMC”. I interviewed a lot of people in the project for my marketing class, and almost everyone said that gestures and non-verbal cues play important roles. Robots have own ways to signaling intention, such as flashing lights or gesturing with a laser pointer. That’s sound appealing.