The recent introduction of smart assistants (e.g., intelligent robots and smart speakers) in the professional and home environment offers new opportunities for collaboration and social interaction between people and robots. In addition, smart assistants have become a new way of
interacting with the environment, often referred to as a smart environment equipped with sensors. It is, therefore, necessary to provide these assistants with the ability to interact socially. As social neuroscience has studied, one of the
characteristics of human interaction is empathy, manifested through gestures, tone of voice, and terms used.
From the point of view of security and privacy, it is necessary to investigate mechanisms to protect the ecosystem of intelligent virtual assistants, avoid involuntary recordings (or purchases), as well as to prevent these devices from being compromised by cyberattacks.
Given the challenges and opportunities of virtual assistants, the COGNOS project aims to investigate technologies that provide intelligent assistants with affective, empathic, and secure interactions. This global objective has two sub-objectives. On the one hand, the application
of affective technologies in the construction of agents, both in the recognition of the user's affection and in the generation of empathy on the part of the attendee. On the other hand, we aim to design and develop the mechanisms of security, privacy, and trust of intelligent assistants and their relationship with the environment.
COGNOS' research work is based on the technologies previously developed by the research team, with extensive experience in agent technology, affective technologies, semantics, natural language processing, and automatic learning, as well as service engineering
technologies, security and privacy, data storage and management, and communications between environmental sensors and intelligent agents.
Several companies and associations have shown great interest in the results of COGNOS, as stated in the letters of support, and have participated in the definition of scenarios to evaluate the technology of the project. Specifically, two scenarios have been defined: intelligent
office and teaching for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The intelligent office allows us to evaluate empathy with anthropomorphic and vocal robots, and several companies (Taiger, Experis, Tragsatec, and EC-Innova) have shown interest in its
exploitation. Also, Hotel & SPA la Salve, considering the application of this case of use for assistance and orientation within the hotel.
As far as the teaching of children with ASD is concerned, it has been selected for its social impact as well as for the scientific interest in having to work on the identification of social keys to express emotions, and it aims to extend a previous successful collaboration with the
SME Answare, which has developed within the EmoSpaces project together with the UPM in collaboration with the Educational and Psychopedagogical Guidance Team of the Autism Spectrum and other Serious Developmental Disorders of the Region of Murcia (EOEP).
Funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation, and Universities (PID2019-105484RB-I00).