Wizard of Oz Stories

Story / Stories

The daydreaming girl Dorothy Gale gets swept to the magical beautiful world of Oz the wizard. In her journey to go back home she meets a talking scarecrow that wishes to have a brain, Tin Woodman who longs for a heart, and Cowardly Lion who seeks courage. They all join the quest to meet the wizard…
And the story continues about Dorothy’s trip and her quest. However there is another story for the Wizard of Oz we are all familiar with:
The Wizard sat behind a computer in a backroom, separated from where the users were interacting with the system. He had one-way mirror to see the users and not to be seen. The users thought they were interacting with a super intelligent system. The truth was that the wizard was on the other end interacting with them instead. The wizard wanted to see how the super intelligent system he has in mind was supposed to be designed through this experiment.

After finishing the interaction with the innocent users, the wizard and his team worked on designing the intelligent system they had in mind. At the end they created a very powerful natural language recognition system that was more accurate in recognizing language than any other complex system.

Nice and true story it is. John F. Kelly coined the terms “Wizard of OZ” and “OZ Paradigm” in his work. Afterwards the term was generally used to this way of experimenting in psychology, human factors, ergonomics and usability engineering. This method is used for iterative design and testing of theoretical systems by simulating what they are supposed to act like. The wizard, who is actually the experimenter, is then set in a room that is separated from the users to do his backend job.

Details of WOZ

The Wizard of OZ methodology is quite well known and famous. It is used in a variety of wide range of research, from which we mention:
1- Studies on human-robot proxemics
2- Collaborative problem solving with robots
3- Studies on human perception of robots
4- The impact of assistive robot rehabilitation tasks
5- Concerns of privacy and robot ownership

In LIREC, this method is used in many experiments to achieve the desired goals. In "Sara: An ECA in the Wild" study, WOZ was used in the embodied conversational agent. It is also used in the study of "Initial Memory Model and Results" where long term memory robots are tested. In a coming article, we will also review WOZ in "the robot house".
WOZ is clearly useful in many different context and topics. Sadly nothing is perfect. And there is one downside of this method; it takes up time and resource to run. Because the robotic system require at least one wizard at all times during each trial to operate the system, which also limits it usefulness for long-term studies, as well as for studies outside of a lab environment.


We leave the conclusion of the first story up to you and focus on the second. The experiment of OZ paradigm proved to be significant in the system developed by John Kelly more with a higher accuracy than any other complex recognition system already implemented with the same functionality. And the moral is that anyone developing any system that could use an iterative design method could make use of this paradigm and score high efficiency and accuracy rates with small number of experiments.

Another point is to learn to be open for all options. One should keep in mind that due to the resources needed to run WOZ sometimes; other solutions could be better used. THRI is one effective method in experimenting with larger number of users of intelligent systems and robots that allows getting feedback in a collaborative way with consuming fewer resources to run.

Read more:

The Wizard of OZ story

The Wizard of OZ experiment

Theatre as a Discussion Tool in Human-Robot Interaction Experiments

Posted by rula.sayaf on Monday, 27 September, 2010 /