The realism of the gaze is essential to give the illusion that a robot is alive, according to Disney. His research laboratory has succeeded in developing a gaze system that reacts finely to external stimuli. The result is this automaton dubbed “Gaze” (gaze) which boils down to a torso supporting an articulated head without skin, but with teeth, and which seems straight out of a horror movie.
Applications for amusement parks
Looking in the direction of a person is not enough if the gaze freezes. It is necessary to establish visual contact and react to signals emitted by the person in front, but also to those of the environment. The more eye contact there is, the more the robot will be seen as human and trustworthy, says Disney in its scientific article. Gaze is equipped with a camera and a sensor. He detects someone turning towards him, but his gaze may drop when he hears an outside sound. His eyes are capable of blinking, making arcs or even quick or slow micro-movements to examine a face. All accompanied by an extremely mobile head whose variations can give the feeling that the machine is breathing.
This system should be aimed primarily at Disneyland theme parks, which make extensive use of machines called Animatron. These are not robots that move, but animated figures with a soundtrack. With this more realistic gaze system, the audience would be more immersed in the stories. More generally, this could benefit host or assistance robots to improve human-machine interactions.