An Artificial Tutor With a Heart
An ultra-analytical computer might smooth the transition between human and machine teaching
Ever feel like your teacher just didn’t understand what you were going through? Well, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Arizona State University are busy designing computerized tutors designed to teach and feel. The machines will be outfitted with sensors that pick up whether a student is angry, frustrated or bored. For instance, a computer vision system will study the subject’s facial expressions—even something like the tilt of the person’s head can be an indicator of his or her level of interest.
Inside the student’s seat [above], sensors will be able to register and flag excessive fidgeting. Even the mouse [left] will have pressure sensors that monitor stress levels. The computer analyzes all this input during teaching sessions, and adjusts accordingly, with an overall goal of keeping the student focused and interested, and conducting the lesson at the right pace. Hopefully it’s got a battery backup, too, since you have to think that particularly frustrated students would be tempted to just unplug the thing when it gets too demanding.