Cristina Zaga is a PhD candidate who studies human-robot interaction. Cristina has a background in Cognitive Science and Human-Media Interaction, she received a double Msc. degree from The University of Twente and Trento, and she has a professional experience in UX/IxD for social media technologies.
Her research lies at the intersection of interaction design and social science applied to the design of interactive technology. She is fascinated by the idea that everyday objects, toys, and appliances imbued of social behaviors can meaningfully communicate with humans and positively shape social dynamics.
In particular, for her doctoral work carried out along side the EU FP7 project Squirrel (Clearing Clutter Bit by Bit), she designs minimal nonverbal behavior to supply non-anthropomorphic robots with the communicative power necessary to engage as 'co-operative peers' in playful object-oriented tasks with children.
To this end, she carries out design studies to understand how typically developing children (8 to 10 years old) perceive and respond robot behavior and behavioral studies that examine how a robot’s behavior shapes child-child interactions in dyads and small groups.
The main goal of the investigation is to inform how we design technology that positively shapes children’s social development and interactions with peers.
Cristina is actively engaged in academic service (CHI 2018, HRI Pioneers 2018, CSCW 2018) and she is one of the founders of the workshop series on Child-Robot Interaction (ICSR2015, HRI2016, HRI2017, www.childrobotinteraction.org) which aim is to bring together human-robot interaction researchers and practitioners developing robots for and with children.
In her after-hours, she developed together with her HMI colleagues "Snoozle a robotic pillow that helps you go to sleep" awarded at HRI 2017 (Delegates’ choice award) and selected for the Eindhoven Design Week 2017.