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ACM TechNews

Robots with Realistic Pain Expressions Can Reduce Examination Error, Bias

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The robotic face used to convey expressions of pain.

The technique could help teach trainee doctors to use clues hidden in patient facial expressions to minimize the force necessary for physical examinations, according to the researchers, who added it also could help to detect and correct early signs of bia

Credit: Imperial College London

Scientists at the U.K.'s Imperial College London have developed a technique for generating more realistic facial expressions of pain on robotic patients, which could help identify and correct signs of bias among medical students.

Undergraduates performed physical examinations on the abdomen of a robotic patient, as data about the force applied to the belly triggered changes in regions of the robotic "MorphFace" to replicate pain-related expressions.

The method showed the order in which these facial activation units (AUs) must initiate to produce the most accurate pain expression, as well as the most suitable speed and magnitude of activation.

The researchers determined the most realistic expressions occurred when AUs around the eyes, then those around the mouth, were activated.

Participants also noted perception of the extent of the robot patient's pain depended on gender and ethnic differences between participant and patient, which impacted the force applied during examination.

From Imperial College London (U.K.)
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