Zachary Kaufman

Who am I?

Hello! My name is Zachary Kaufman. I'm an Accelerated Masters student studying Intelligent Systems Engineering at Indiana University. I have been working as a Research Assistant since September of 2020 in the R-House Human-Robot Interaction lab. My research has primarily focused on robot perception (using methods in computer vision and wearable sensors) for assistive robots being used with elderly adults, children, and in healthcare.


Personal Email: [email protected]

School Email: [email protected]

LinkedIn: @zckaufman

Research Objective

My research aims to design Socially Assistive Robots (SAR) for assisting in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of mental health disorders by developing deep learning perception models for use with non-invasive and wearable sensors to understand human physiological responses to interaction with robots. Additionally, I will explore novel methods of interacting with SARs using Virtual/Augmented Reality, fabrication, and unique visual and auditory stimuli, with the goal of adapting robots to the needs of those with mental health disorders.

Current Research

I am working on two ongoing research projects with the R-House Human-Robot Interaction lab, one is in collaboration with Honda Research Institute of Japan and one is under a National Science Foundation grant to help Mississippi State University design a Socially Assistive Robot.

Haru Project: Haru, a prototype desktop social robot being developed by Honda Research Institute of Japan, is designed to be an "Encouraging Mediator" between groups of people who are disconnected by age, culture, language, or physical distance. Our primary focus is on developing Haru for use with children, focusing on engagement and privacy. One of the main studies I am a part of is creating perception models for Haru that can help Haru dynamically adapt to children's changing levels of engagement based on non-invasive sensors such as an RGB camera and thermal camera. The other study I am a part of is using UNICEF's guidance for AI and children which discussed nine requirements for child-centered AI that protects the child's rights during the interaction. We are running user based studies with children and their parents to test how these guidelines, digital privacy, and Haru can work effectively and safely in everyday scenarios.

Therabot™ Project: This project studies how we can design a Socially Assistive Robot (SAR) for helping treat and manage Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) using Mississippi State University's prototype SAR named Therabot™. Most of the studies I am involved in with this project have participants with MDD do a participatory design workshop in which they will design an aspect of Therabot™, such as it's physical appearance, it's programming, or what sensors it will use. This gives us insights into how to design Therabot™ but also what aspects of any SAR would be helpful in treating, monitoring, and managing MDD.