Leland Hepler

UX for Up Close and Personal Robots

Key Learnings

  • Look at what can be communicated clearly in film and interactive games to better understand what tools and techniques can or cannot be easily applied to robotics.
  • Define building blocks of clear communication/interaction a) Commanding and directing attention b) Meaningful state change at attention point.
  • Identify the state changes that are rich with meaning: Positional relationships, timing relationships, speed and facial billboard symbols. Walk thru an applied example.


As we transition from interfacing with machines using screens to more direct “face-to-face” interactions, creators of robot experiences will need to design interactions for users that are clear and meaningful.

We will look at some of the tools and techniques commonly used to create believable character interactions in animated films and interactive video games and analyze the underlying principles at work. We’ll explore ways we could apply these principles to the design of the autonomous robotic “characters” that will soon become a common part of our everyday lives.

Date: Thursday, October 17th
Time: 15:30 - 16:15
Location: Hall 1


Leland Hepler

UX/UI Design, Boston Dynamics

Leland heads up UX/UI design at Boston Dynamics and previously was the Director of User Experience at Rethink Robotics. Before Rethink, he spent 14 years as an animator with Walt Disney Feature Animation working on such films as “The Lion King”, “Dinosaur” and “Chicken Little” and then spent another 9 years developing video games. Leland is passionate about bringing the influences of animation and game development into robotics and believes the tools and techniques used to create characters for film and interactive video games can provide many lessons and insights for robot interaction experiences as autonomous creatures become a common part of our daily lives. He holds a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design.

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