Michele Masterson

Users Embrace Talking Tissue Boxes

It may sound like something out of a science fiction movie, but with the advent of smart objects, a talking box of tissues may someday be not only accepted by users but considered the norm.
Researchers at Penn State University videotaped 63 participants who reacted to a talking tissue box. When a lab worker sneezed, the tissue box said “Bless You,” and followed up by saying, “Here, take a tissue” and “Take care!” Participants from two other groups heard the same messages from either a laboratory worker or a talking tabletop robot. According to the scientists, participants found the talking tissue box just as human-like and as autonomous as the robot, even though robots are more human-looking and human-acting.

“Smart objects will become more and more a part of our daily lives,” said S. Shyam Sundar, distinguished professor of communications and codirector of the Media Effects Research Laboratory at Penn State. “We believe the next phase is that objects will start talking and interacting with humans, and our goal is to figure out the best ways for objects to [do that]. This study shows that speech is a social cue. It may be enough to make the objects more social and not necessarily more human-like in appearance.”

Source: Penn State News