Furhat doing stage-presentations

You might have seen Furhat first time on a stage since it turns out, Furhat usually does likes to be in the spotlight. As long as it isn't a literal spot-light, since Furhat is illuminated from within and you don't wanna wash away that pretty smile.

As with all stage-performances - practice is essential to create a lasting impressions. Here, we list a few tips and tricks that hopefully will let your Furhat(s) shine on stage.

The interaction on stage

Generally, building an interaction for a show is not very different from building an interaction meant for users to engage with. The biggest different is that you want to minimize the possible points of failure while standing on stage, which usually means making the interaction more linear or offload the branching of the conversation to a human wizard.

It's usually more impressive and engaging to have Furhat interact instead of presenting, but for obvious reasons harder to accomplish. For two examples, please see:

A good practise is for the robot to interact with the MC/human presenter. Note that you typically don't want to rely on speech input in a situation like this, unless it's battle-tested to be robust. Instead, we recommend the following ways of control:

  • A human wizard controlling the robot manually using the built-in wizard interface, basically pressing buttons to have the robot act. This allows a dynamic (non-linear) conversation.
  • The presenter/MC using a clicker to move the robot to the next state in the dialog. This works for a linear conversation.

If you have more than one robot, having the robots interact with each other is usually a great showcase of what the platform can do. Make sure you personalize each robot (see the section below). The robots should be synced programmatically, or each controlled manually as explained above.

One or multiple personalities

One of the coolest capabilities of the Furhat robot is to be able to change personality, something that also usually makes for a good show. It can be quite effective to have the different personalities in a Furhat interaction to be aware of each other and present each other before they change. See the above unveiling video for examples.

To do a persona change, at some point in the interaction change the face-texture, voice and vocabulary. Make sure you use textures that are made for the same mask that you are going to use. You can also use different masks, but changing masks mid-presentation could be troublesome since it requires a synced texture switch and thus needs to be thoroughly rehearsed.

If you have several robots at your disposal, you could create different personalities for each robot. Each robot can have a custom mask and face texture/skin, as-well as an own voice, or use real speech from an own voice-actor.

Making Furhat expressive

This is where Furhat shines, so you probably want to put a big focus on making Furhat expressive in various ways.

Let Furhat speak: Real speech is always more expressive than synthesized speech so if you have a limited set of robot utterances, it could be worth going for. We have a tool to lipsync audio for the most common languages. When using synthesized voices, try to select an expressive voice that fits well with the persona. Some voices are equipped with non-verbal sounds and other means of modifying the speech by changing pitch, speed, prosody etc.

Make Furhat attentive: The robot attending the user or robot it's addressing makes for a human interaction. When addressing a crowd, Furhat should change his gaze target once in a while.

Give Furhat gestures: Use the expressivity of the face by adding gestures at nice places in the interaction. In addition, microexpressions can be used to create individual looks for each robot persona, or even various moods for the same persona. For example, a stressed robot might blink more often.

Give Furhat human imperfections: From a user engagement perspective, having a human speech with all it's beautiful imperfections usually makes for a more engaging and interesting interaction. To accomplish this, think of using a spoken language instead of written language and use backchannels and feedback tokens like "ehh", "mhmm" to create a more human dialog. Also, adding non-verbal sounds like coughing or throat-clearing sounds can be hilarious coming from a robot.

Environmental

While Furhat is built to be able to function in a large variety of environments, there are certain factors that are good to keep in mind to have Furhat succeed.

Give Furhat his/her space: Since Furhat is not equipped with a battery, try to not move the robot around unless you have a flexible power-solution.

Save spotlights for humans: Make sure the light conditions are alright. A dimmed lighting is better than a very bright light since that could wash away Furhats face. And Furhat needs his face.

Mind the volume: If you plan to use speech-input, make sure the background audio level is controlled, or that your microphone is well-tuned.

Connecting Furhat to external sound systems

In terms of audio, you can connect an external sound system to Furhat using the 3.5mm jack on the back of the robot. A recommendation is to use a ground box between the robot and the sound system, to get rid of any audio distortion or "humming" that might occur.

Filming Furhat

Filming Furhat can be tricky, make sure you set up the camera ahead of time otherwise Furhat may not look good and does not appear flickering on the video. The robot's projector running on (60 Hz), so we recommend not using this frequency when filming. Please see this guide for more info and tips.