Master Thesis on “Implementering av velferdsteknologi ved offentlige sykehjem i Norge” (EN: “Implementaition of welfare technology in public nursing homes in Norway”) completed

Ida Anette Mehren have completed her Master’s Thesis in Media, Communication and Information Technology with the title Kravet om evig omstilling (EN:The requirement for eternal adjustment) at NTNU for the academic spring semester 2022.


This picture is taken by me, by the actual Touch and Play board at the “Aktiva” nursing home. 

Focus for thesis 

In Norway, we are facing demographic changes in the coming years in the form of an aging population that is living longer. This has a major impact on how the health and care sector works. In line with the increasing digitalization and technological development, Norwegian politicians have therefore presented welfare technology as a very central part of the solution to both the economic- and capacity challenges. This will be important as the nursing homes will be filled with older, sicker residents, who will place greater demands on care and follow-up from an already pressured healthcare service. In the work on the development of a more sustainable health and care service for the future, the notion of how care is exercised is therefore changing. This has a major impact on the health personnel’s workday as each implementation of new welfare technology acts as a process of change for the employees’ working practices. Based on that, in this study I examine how employees at public nursing homes in Norway experience the implementation of new welfare technology.  

The assignment is based on a case study of a nursing home, which in this assignment will be referred to as “Aktiva.” Through in-depth interviews with four employees and a project manager at Aktivia, I will here examine their experiences related to two implementations of a digital activity board called “Touch & Play”.  As the implementation of welfare technology is largely about the meeting between the user and new technology, I use the dimensional model of domestication as an analysis tool in this thesis. Furthermore, the findings presented through this study will show how employees in public nursing homes are part of a demand for perpetual restructuring through constant negotiation, opinion production and knowledge building to accommodate new work practices.  

Relation to future of work 

The findings presented through this thesis can be argued to have a general relevance for the municipal health service, the specialist health service, authorities and the research field on welfare technology. Beyond the health sector, the findings may also be relevant to how the implementation is generally carried out for other workplaces that handle scarce resources. Finally, the overall context in which the task is placed will be relevant for both politicians and technology developers in their further work on which types of welfare technology should be invested in nursing homes in the years to come. 

Even though there is already a range of research on the implementation of welfare technology, a further essential question is which position welfare technology for activation is assigned in the network of various technological solutions and other human actors who are in the nursing home. This is an interesting question, as it is no longer a question of whether we should invest in welfare technology or not but rather a question of which technological solutions should be invested in. In light of the employees’ experiences with the activation of nursing home residents, as illustrated in the thesis, I would finally encourage further research to link its field studies to the sickest among the residents of the nursing homes. This could contribute to forming a more nuanced picture of what is termed in politics as “active elderly” and further contribute with new insight into the use of welfare technology in general in meeting future nursing home residents.  

Read more

You can read the full Master’s Thesis here:


Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) STP Visits KULT NTNU, Trondheim

In September, we welcomed four visiting scholars from Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST), Daejeon, who stayed with the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture, NTNU, for one month. Three of them were participants of LIFEBOTS Exchange, a Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) program coordinated by NTNU. The team leader Dr. Chihyung Jeon is also on the advisory board for our AUTOWORK project. 

As science, technology, and policy researchers, they are interested in how social contexts shape the material design and cultural meanings of social and healthcare robots. They are particularly interested in how the social acceptance of robotic systems is conditioned by the shared cultural values of a society. During the visit, both sides broadened our understanding of the situatedness of social robots through in-depth discussions with each other and other NTNU collaborators in the LIFEBOTS exchange program. 

They have also visited various robot-related research facilities at Trondheim, such as SINTEF, and explored the possibility of a cross-cultural analysis of the social acceptance of robots. 

They shared their work with KULT researchers by participating in a DigiKULT seminar on the 12. Sept. 2022. 

Heesun Shin, “Robots for the Elderly Living Alone and Reconfiguration of Care in South Korea”

Miryang Kang, “Becoming One with the Robot”: Paraplegics, Robots, and a New Way of Walking in the Cybathlon”

Sungeun Kim, “Particulate Matter Pollution and Science-Policy Interface in South Korea”

Chihyung Jeon, “STS and Disaster Investigation Reports in South Korea”

At the end of the visit, the KULT team also brought our KAIST guests the most exotic Norwegian experience: a musk-ox safari, a 6-hour hike through the mountains, and sharing good memories and discussions with our team. 

Chihyung Jeon is an associate professor at the Graduate School of Science and Technology Policy, KAIST. He received his Ph.D. in STS (Science, Technology, and Society) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2010. Before joining KAIST STP in 2011, he spent a year at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. In 2016-17, he was a Carson Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich. In January 2018, he was a visiting professor at the University of Vienna, teaching a graduate course on robotics and society.

Jeon conducts research on the relationship between humans and technologies within social and cultural contexts, examining various policy issues arising from specific human-technology-society configurations. He is interested in the feelings of control, empowerment, intimacy, anxiety, and loneliness that humans have in front of machines. He is the founder of “a.human,” a research network of scholars interested in atypical forms of humans—artificial, augmented, almost, or alternative.

Jeon’s affiliation with academic societies includes the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S, an elected Council member since 2020), Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), Korean Association of Science and Technology Studies (KASTS), and Korea History of Science Society (KHSS). As of 2021, he is an associate editor for East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal and a contributing editor for Technology and Culture, the official journal of SHOT. In 2019 and 2020, he served as the editor-in-chief for the Journal of Science and Technology Studies published by KASTS.

Heesun Shin is a doctoral student at the Graduate School of Science and Technology Policy, KAIST. She received B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering (KAIST, 2014) and M.S. in Science and Technology Policy (KAIST, 2016). Her research interests include cultures and politics of robotics and the human-robot relationship in the making from an STS perspective. As a thesis project, she is working on the ways in which robots are designed, developed, and used for elderly care in the South Korean public healthcare system. With Chihyung Jeon, she is producing a documentary film The Old Man and the Robot (working title), which follows the journey of Hyodol, an elderly care robot manufactured by a South Korean company, as the robot is designed, developed, distributed, and finally placed at the older adults’ home to take care of the elderly living alone.

Sungeun Kim is a doctoral student at the Graduate School of Science and Technology Policy, KAIST. He holds B.S. in Chemistry (KAIST, 2014) and M.S. in Science and Technology Policy (KAIST, 2017). He is interested in the sociotechnical coordination of remotely operated systems. In particular, his research project looks at how healthcare technologies such as telemedicine and teleoperated robots require the coordination of multiple actors (patients, nurses, doctors, roboticists, etc.) in diverse cultural settings. By doing so, he aims to examine factors that facilitate or hamper successful robotic healthcare.

Miryang Kang is a doctoral student at the Graduate School of Science and Technology Policy, KAIST. She is interested in disability STS, human-robot relationships, crip technoscience, and user innovation. Her master’s thesis “Neither Human nor Robotic: Paraplegics, Exoskeleton Robots, and a New Way of Walking” (2020) looks at how disabled people and non-disabled roboticists and medical staff cooperated to engineer walking in preparation for the Powered Exoskeleton Race of Cybathlon. For her thesis, she is now expanding her research sites into rehabilitation hospitals, welfare centers, and disability rights activism to document disabled people as experts, designers, and users of the accessible world.

Selected Publication

– Miryang Kang, Heesun Shin, and Chihyung Jeon. “The Autonomous Walker: How Humans and Robots Generate and Distribute Autonomy.” Korean Journal of Science and Technology Studies 21, no. 3 (2021): 98-138. [in Korean]

– Chihyung Jeon, Heesun Shin, Sungeun Kim, and Hanbyul Jeong. “Talking Over the Robot: A Field Study of Strained Collaboration in a Dementia-Prevention Robot Class.” Interaction Studies 21, no. 1 (2020): 85-110.

– Sungeun Kim, Heesun Shin, Chihyung Jeon. “PyeongChang Olympics and the Crisis of Movement.” Philosophy of Movement: Journal of Korean Society for Philosophy of Sports, Dance & Martial Arts 26, no. 4 (2018): 67-85. [in Korean]

– Heesun Shin and Chihyung Jeon. “When Robots Meet the Elderly: The Contexts of Interaction and the Role of Mediators.” Korean Journal of Science and Technology Studies 18, no. 2 (2018): 135-179. [in Korean]

Advanced technologies and sustainable development goals (SDGs) (1): Smart city

Author: Caijun Zhao

Urbanization is one of the major trends around the world. The population in urban areas has been skyrocketing, which challenges urban living conditions and the environment. This could be due to the shortage of urban services for many people and air and water pollution. Good planning and management are the keys to ensuring the well-being of the population living in the cities. A smart city with a more efficient, sustainable, and livable environment becomes the goal for future cities. Robotics, digitalization, and automation play a significant role in achieving this goal. 

With the expansion of urbanized areas and the increase of urban problems, smart cities and intelligent buildings have been one of the hottest research topics, which covers a wide range of intelligent traffic and transportation, smart energy storage and usage, emergency management systems, and also deals with the issues in building comfort and energy saving, building safety control system and so on. 

The urban environment is becoming more and more complex. Meanwhile, the demand for environment and security is increasing. A robot presented in the paper of Yang et al. (2019) is designed to monitor the building environment and alert people by voice. With its small size and flexible movement, the robot enables the monitoring task in narrow and dangerous places. It is possible to control the robot through the mobile phone, providing users much more potential and convenience. Receiving an early warning is not enough to guarantee the safety of users in complex environments. An accurate navigation and integrated information system are needed to realize indoor positioning. As we have all experienced, navigation accuracy is poor in indoor environments, such as markets and museums. This is because the GPS signal is unstable indoors. Li and Wang (2019) conducted their research on improving accuracy in indoor navigation technology, which has enormous potential to improve the efficiency of resource utilization of large public buildings and guarantee safety and convenience for the public. In addition, many technological advances in reducing noise and establishing control models of temperature and humidity environments in smart buildings also significantly improve comfort and energy efficiency simultaneously. 


Fang. Q., Zhu. Q., and Qiao, F. (2018). Advancements in Smart City and Intelligent Building. Proceedings of the International Conference on Smart City and Intelligent Building (ICSCIB 2018). ISBN 978-981-13-6732-8.

Yang. G, Wang. Y, and Chen. B (2019). Design of Buiding Environment Mobile Monitoring and Safety Early Warning Robot. Advancements in Smart City and Intelligent Building, pp.85-93.

Li. M and Wang. H. (2019) Application of Probabilistic Reasoning Algorithm in Indoor Positioning Based on WLAN. Advancements in Smart City and Intelligent Building, pp.95-113.


编辑:Yu Cheng, Caijun Zhao

山羊脖子上的项圈是一个新科技系统的一部分,该系统允许山羊从物理围栏中解放出来,可以自由自在的在所限定牧场区域行走。照片: Roger A. Søraa博士, 挪威科技大学 (NTNU)



虽然,在采取增产措施后,挪威的绵羊数量从2014年到2017年增加了9%。然而,这导致了生产过剩,盈利能力下降,2017年后的几年里绵羊数量下降了12%。许多较小的牧羊场由于农场继承而倒闭。这些数字和例子来自NIBIO 2019年版的年度出版物《挪威农业-现状和趋势》,该出版物概述了挪威农业的主要方面。该出版物是各种统计资料的汇编,扼要介绍了挪威农业部门的现状和趋势。


关于这项技术和现象的最新研究是: “Boundaryless boundary-objects: Digital fencing of the CyborGoat in rural Norway”, 由Roger Andre Søraaa 和 JosteinVik发表在Journal of Rural Studies,Volume 87, October 2021, Pages 23-31。


  • 虚拟放牧和数字围栏是向“智能农业”过渡的一部分。
  • 农民可以设置无形的界限,山羊必须学会使用。
  • 新的无边界的边界创造了谈判山羊养殖的新方法。
  • 结构需求和安排创造了科技化山羊的解释灵活性。
  • “电子山羊”是自然-文化-技术的产物。




关于山羊越狱的实例有很多。例如,在美国,一山羊帮助75名同伴成功“越狱”,成功多次,至今“逍遥法外。 在国内,如果,像这样的山羊“越狱”掉落高速就太危险了,还好警民联手抓回“拦路羊”。山羊从屠宰场“越狱”,在派出所好吃好喝后被送回,这些新闻在网上有很多。



照片:Associate Professor. Roger A. Søraa, 挪威科技大学 (NTNU)



Roger Andre Søraa, Associate Professor – Ph.D. in Studies of Technology and Society

研究团队研究的技术是挪威一家名为Nofence AS的小公司开发的一种特定品牌的虚拟放牧技术“Nofence”。这家创新公司成立于2011年,正如一名开发者在采访中所说的那样,公司的愿景是“通过给动物更多的活动空间和更少的限制空间,来更好地利用外场区域,提高动物的福利。” Nofence的工作原理是,给装有信标的山羊戴上项圈,通过运行4G网络的卫星发送和接收信号。该装置包含一个电池和一个蓝牙装置,以便在GPS故障时找到设备,例如,电池从插座脱落。

农民在系统的应用程序上设置了一个数字边界,从而为山羊可以和不能漫游的地方设置了一个虚拟边界。当一只戴着项圈的山羊冒险走出指定的虚拟围栏区域时,会响起哔哔声。如果山羊离开这个区域更远,它的音量就会增加,在第三个和最大的音符之后,山羊就会受到一个小的电击。这促使山羊顺着来时的路快速地往回跑。 农民可以在他们的应用程序中完全访问,以查看哪些山羊收到了多少个声音和电击触发器,从而可以跟踪哪些山羊收到了不同数量的触发器。由于数字放牧技术代表了挪威农业的一项相当新颖的创新,该公司得到了媒体的广泛关注。


Søraa博士和他的同事Jostein Vik代表Ruralis和NTNU研究了这项技术是如何被引进的,以及这种方法在实践、观念和指导方针方面对现代山羊养殖意味着什么。Vik教授在Ruralis和NTNU的社会和政治学系工作。

Jostein Vik, Senior researcher (assistant position) – Dr.polit. (political science)





没有这项技术,很少有人能做牧羊人,因为他们经常不得不在附近有其他工作。图片: Dr. Roger A. Søraa, 挪威科技大学(NTNU) 







如果这个系统在国外也能成功,那将是令人兴奋的。据开发人员称,现在有超过2.7万只动物带着Nofence (Nofence是世界上第一个家畜虚拟围栏) 器具行走,绵羊和奶牛都跟着山羊走,山羊是最早出来的动物。Søraa博士说,我们采访的农民更怀疑器具在羊身上的作用,因为羊的性情和山羊不同。










Roger Andre Søraa博士 (Twitter: @RogerSoraa) 是挪威科技大学(NTNU)文化跨学科研究系的副教授。他拥有科学和技术研究博士学位。他的研究侧重于自动化、机器人化和社会数字化——人类和技术之间的关系。Søraa博士对技术的社会驯化特别感兴趣,例如,他对医院机器人和家庭老年技术的研究。他还隶属于神经科学系,在那里他从事”生命机器人”项目。他曾隶属于RURALIS-挪威农业与区域研究所,在那里他研究SmaT-可持续农业的智能技术。Søraa博士发表了许多关于自动化、机器人、数字化的文章和书籍,包括与Pernille Nyvoll, Gunhild Tøndel, Eduard Fosch-Villaronga and Artur Serrano共同发表的 “The social dimension of domesticating technology: Interactions between older adults, caregivers, and robots in the home” (2021), Technological Forecasting and Social Change. Vol. 167.












A combination of AI technology and religion? Japanese AI innovations related to Buddhism.

Author: Caijun Zhao

News released on 12th Sep 2022 stated that Kyoto University had developed augmented reality (AR) content using artificial intelligence, allowing users to interact with a “Buddha” on a smartphone. 

This is developed to help people with worries and need to listen to the teachings of Buddhism. When the user holds up a smartphone, an avatar of Buddha appears, and it can give 1000 patterns of answers to users’ worries. After “Buddha” listens to the concerns of users, “Buddha” will answer by message or voice. This combines the function of the smartphone’s camera and AI technology. Seiji Kumagai, an associate professor at Kyoto University, is the developer of this APP.  He explained the idea behind this innovation: “ we would like to provide people with healing and fun by fusing traditional knowledge and science.”

This is not the first step that robot is used in religion-related activities. As early as 2019, a robot called Mindar, modeled after Kannon Bodhisattva was unveiled to the media in Kyoto. Mindar is designed to explain Buddha’s teachings to help people better understand Buddhism’s essence. After the debut of Mindar, it has been actively preaching to troubled people and “working” in Kodaiji Temple to show how people with worries can obtain peace of mind. It is not only a robot with the resemble appearance of Kannon Bodhisattva, but also able to reveal the essence of the Buddha’s teaching in plain language to the audience. In a country where religious affiliation is declining, these are also attempting to reignite people’s passion for their faith. For now, Mindar is not AI-powered, but the developers have the plan to give it machine-learning capabilities. This shows the potential that AI robots may replace human religious leaders and change religions in the future. 

Many people worry about this change, as robots stand to change how people experience faith. These religious experiences leave room for the spontaneous, the emotional, and even the mystical. This is considered a valuable part of religion. Robots may lead to a mechanized or homogenized experience, which poses risks for challenging core tenets of theology. The acceptance of robots varies among different religions and different regions. In Japan, it seems that people who visit Mindar are not too bothered by the risks because robots are already so commonplace in Japan. In addition, Buddhism’s non-dualistic metaphysical notion that everything has inherent “Buddha nature,” which elaborates on the potential of becoming enlightened applies to everything, including robots. On the contrary, because of theological differences, westerners tend to have a more negative reaction to robots like Mindar. 




Sigal Samuel (2020). Robot priests can bless you, advise you, and even perform your funeral. VOX.

Master Thesis on Self-checkouts in Grocery Stores Completed

Anita Stovner has completed her Master’s Thesis in STS: Science and Technology Studies with the title AUTOMATION IN GROCERY STORES: Domestication of self-checkouts counters at NTNU, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture for the academic spring semester 2022.

(Illustration from Canva)

Focus for thesis
This dissertation explores grocery store workers’ and customers’ use of self-checkout counters. The study takes place in Trondheim, Norway, at different grocery stores, and it aims to figure out how automation has influenced the sale and service sector. The main research question in this thesis is: How can self-checkout counters in grocery stores be understood from a user perspective?

The empirical material is based on three qualitative research methods: interviews,
observations, and spontaneous focus interviews. The data material was gathered from June to October 2021. Grounded Theory has inspired the analysis of the data material, subsequently based on Science and Technology Studies (STS) approaches of domestication theory and non-users.

My analysis showcases three overlapping aspects of self-checkouts. Control is the first aspect where the management controls the grocery store workers, and the store and workers control the customers. Trust is the second aspect. The management trusts the workers to do the right thing and follow the guidelines. Additionally, the store has implemented customer precautions because more customers started to steal after introducing self-checkouts. Efficiency is the last aspect. Self-checkouts brought efficiency to the stores because of the decreased waiting time. Some customers loved the self-checkouts, while others stated that the efficiency did not impact their choice between self-checkouts and regular registers. Furthermore, the analysis made it apparent how grocery store workers and customers understand the technology differently. I thus argue that to get a fuller picture of the technology of self-checkouts, it is essential to include both a user- and non-user perspective.

Relation to future of work
In the future, self-checkouts could be more widespread, and we could see fewer people in grocery stores. This could face some resistance from customers because grocery stores are seen as a social platform for some customers. The pathway for the sale and service sector is unsure. We already see tendencies towards this.

Master Thesis on Relative’s Experience of Application-based Medical Care completed

Maria Julsen Andersen completed their Master’s Thesis in media, communication and information technology with the title “Relative’s role in a care collective characterized by distance” at NTNU, Faculty of Social and Educational Sciences, for the academic spring semester 2022.

Focus for thesis

The increasing digitalization of public and private health services is a complex consequence of societal challenges related to the capacity of healthcare systems combined with an ageing population and an example of technology development. This has consequently led to more research in the area, which has set other requirements for the treatment and follow-up of patients, where the role of relatives is proving to be more critical. In connection with this, Sykehuset Østfold (SiØ) has implemented the project Innovative Patient Process from 2018–to 2021. In the project, Nimble People, an application with a user interface adapted to patients, has been tested as a home-based follow-up service for cancer patients. Nimble People ́s central function is the reporting form, where the patient registers symptoms and self-performed measurements. In the project, the application has been used by patients to report pain and side effects according to treatment and follow-up.

The following study aims to shed light on relatives’ experience of application-based follow-up and what consequences this may have for patients’ treatment. This research question under investigation stems from previous research that shows that relatives have vital roles, primarily in physical and video follow-up, which has led to the topic being put on the social agenda. In this way, relatives and various care collectives are increasingly crucial in future care.

The study was conducted in collaboration with Sykehuset Østfold. It consists of eight qualitative in-depth interviews with the next of kin associated with the Innovative Patient Process using an interview process and guide developed concerning the relative’s vulnerable situation. These were contacted using a list of patients’ relatives maintained by the Hospital. The findings have been analyzed through a domestication analysis based on Sørensens ́ (2006) and Ask and Søras ́ (2021) domestication theories incorporating practice, cognitive, symbolic, and social dimensions. These dimensions constitute the theoretical framework in the thesis and characterize the discussion of the findings.

The findings show that application-based follow-up of cancer patients via Nimble People works for the patients themselves but not for the relatives in the study, as they feel excluded. It turns out that there exist knowledge gaps because of a lack of information from the hospital to the relatives or/and the absence of information transfer in the household. Consequently, the relatives feel little involved and less confident that the patient will receive proper treatment. For relatives’ feelings to be taken care of, they want to be involved throughout the follow-up process from start to finish, where both professional-relative interactions and relative-patient interactions are essential. The relatives can contribute insight into the patients’ self-reporting through such an interaction, leading to more accurate reports. It also turns out that several of the app’s functions can be utilized to benefit the patients’ treatment if the hospital actively includes relatives regarding patients’ use of Nimble People.

Relation to future of work

Based on the health sector being digitalized where patients and next of kin are required to take more responsibility for medical treatment, we must ensure that all influencing actors associated with the digital solution are mapped. This Master’s Thesis raises several questions related to actors connected to the technology used for medical treatment over distance. Examples of questions are; should patients’ right to ownership over their own illness be emphasized, and what happens if relatives are assigned a more active user role from the start? As an extension of these questions, the healthcare system must balance the different needs of different actors in the patients’ care network. In this way, they must consider whether patients, next of kin, or healthcare personnel’s needs are most critical for digital treatment. They must also take care of all the actors’ needs at the same time.

This thesis indicates that patients’ closest relatives and their experiences with Nimble People affect the medical treatment. In that way, the needs of this user group must be considered to facilitate the best possible patient treatment through application-based follow-up in future healthcare and following studies.

There are not a lot of research contributions on how relatives experience application-based follow-up which means that more studies should be done. This will involve investigating how other follow-up applications are used, how relatives are involved in the follow-up, and what consequences it has in connection to the patient’s treatment. It would also be interesting to do research on how developers of technology such as Nimble People inscribe use through the technology’s design.

Based on the master’s thesis findings, more research on the topic will be done by two researchers at NTNU.

Robotics4EU needs your voice!

Robotics solutions and technologies are rapidly changing society and transforming the way we live and work – with both positive improvements and unforeseen consequences.
In Robotics4EU we wish to ensure that citizens have a say when it comes to these new technologies and how they affect everyday life. Therefore, we have gathered robots which are being developed right now or have just entered the market. We have set these up in a survey style consultation.  
By answering the survey, you get the opportunity to have an influence on these robotics solutions, as your answers will be given directly to the companies behind the robots, who will use your feedback in the further development of the robots.

The solutions to give feedback are various: from a robot that gives throat swabs, to a humanoid that assists medical personnel and even a solution that aims to protect farmers’ crops. 

Don’t miss this chance to make your voice heard!  The Robotics4EU would apreciate if you could share this information with your peers.   The Robotics4EU team  

Master Thesis on the topic of Korean cafés and service robots completed

Halvard Moe Krogstad has completed their Master’s Thesis in Science & Technology Studies with the title “Efficient Robots vs. Social Beings: A sociotechnical study on Korean café-culture and novel technology in service” at NTNU, the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, for the academic spring semester 2022.

Focus for thesis

“How robots are used in South Korean cafés and why?”. In this thesis I investigate this question through a qualitative study of Korean café culture, looking at how various components play a part when change occurs in Korean cafés and the complexity of it. The thesis’ introduction presents Korea as a nation, an overview of life in Seoul, a brief history of coffee in Korea, the birth of Korea as a tech-nation, a definition of a robot, and lastly highlights this thesis’ importance and contribution to ‘untact’ and HRI-research. Methodologically, this case study draws on three primary empirical materials: (1) Fieldwork in Korea and experiencing Seoul, (2) observations of 6 cafés; 3 robot-cafés and 3 regular cafés, (3) semi-structured interviews of four Seoul-based students. The informants are presented as their own individuals in this thesis but do also represent the core café customer-group and daily life of students in Seoul. The primary empirical data is central to this thesis’ research as the process is inspired by grounded theory, an inductive methodological approach. Additionally, I utilize theoretical tools from the field of Science & Technology Studies: sociotechnical perspective, domestication, and delegation. I also borrow Breaching experiments from the Sociology field of study.

Chronologically, this thesis is structured in four analysis chapters: (1) a deep-dive into the Korean café-culture, the busy lives of students, the café as a study spot, Seoul’s density and cramped housing, and material configurations of cafés. This constitutes the local context of this thesis. (2) Presenting the sociotechnical material configurations in Seoul cafés. Analyzed by being categorized and put up against the local context, figuring out why cafés make use of novel technology. This constitutes the material context. (3) Analyzing how customers domesticate cafés using novel technologies, based on the cafés hybridity, taste of products, and the customers technical competence. (4) HRI-analysis of breaching experiments, presenting three cases of breaching in social expectations of interactions in a service setting, in addition to the concept of imagined breaching and rejection of untact technology in a service setting.

The Seoul café is adapting to the local context and students’ routines, by increasingly making use of technologies and reducing the number of human employees, resulting in some cafés becoming borderline hybrids, blurring the line between café, home, and workplace. Findings show that students, the target customer, are divided in domesticating robot-cafés, due to rejection of interacting with technology in service based on untrust and anticipatory fear of malfunction.

Relation to future of work

This thesis provides an insight into a modern shift in the Korean service sector, where cafés are observed increasingly delegating tasks formerly done by human baristas over to novel technology, automated systems, and the customer themselves. In terms of work in the future, human baristas are expected to experience a shift both in their daily work-tasks and also how they provide services. These tasks and services, observed to have already sprung up in some cafés, revolve around bridging the gap between robots / automation and the customer, e.g., assisting with making orders on machines and through applications, swooping in when technical malfunction occurs, etc. Additional jobs and tasks related to maintenance of automated services are also expected to experience a substantial increased need in the future, found today to be performed by both professional maintenance workers as well as service workers, such as baristas and fast-food workers.

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You can read the full Master’s Thesis here:

Qianxi Robotics Group: From the first fully automated restaurant to the Robotic Restaurant in Winter Olympics, 2022 

Author: Caijun Zhao

In 2020, the world’s first “fully automated restaurant”, FOODOM, opened in Foshan, Guangdong province, China. “Fully automated restaurant” means that all the workloads in the restaurant, including greeting customers, taking orders, cooking and making drinks, delivering food, and cleaning up, are taken care of by robots only. There is no human staff in the restaurant. FOODOM has 46 different types of robots and can provide over 200 dishes for nearly 600 customers. The cuisines served in the restaurant range from traditional Chinese dishes to Western-style fast food. The restaurant is operated by Qianxi Robotics Group. 

Qianxi Robotics Group, an innovative comprehensive high-tech enterprise, was founded in 2019, as a wholly owned subsidiary of Country Garden. One of the main missions is to apply advanced technologies to develop the leading robotics restaurant chain brand in China, which provides a smart and clean dining environment with abundant food categories. Qianxi Robotics values research, design, and innovation. There is a 750-person research and development team behind the robot restaurants. 

There are many advantages of automated restaurants. First of all, meals are delivered by a conveyor-belt system that runs through the ceiling of the restaurant, and thus robot restaurants are more efficient in terms of space used. Secondly, the waiting time for food is much shorter than human-operated counterparts. Noodle robots can serve more than 120 bowls of noodles per hour. People only need to wait 20 seconds for their breakfast after the order and an advanced burger robot can serve a delicious burger in 20 seconds, which is nearly double the efficiency of the current fast food industry giants. Additionally, cooking robots can compete with famous chefs as the robots imitate and improve the actions of experienced human chefs through a lengthy trial-and-error process. Thus, the robot restaurant guarantees not only efficiency but also flavors. Furthermore, the standardized cooking process and the absence of human-to-human contact also guarantee hygiene and the safety of dining out during the pandemic. A restaurant without human workers could potentially reduce the risk of coronavirus infection.  

The whole system of the automated restaurants has been improving to meet the new needs of customers. After two years, Qianxi Robotics Group brought their pink-and-white restaurant and the overall intelligent Robotics solutions to the Olympics Valley in Beijing in 2022. Robots served meals for Olympic participants of the 2022 Winter Olympics. In this way, person-to-person contact was minimized and guaranteed the safety of participants. People can order food by simply scanning a QR code from a cellphone, which is more convenient than a human server. And the restaurant provided food 24 hours a day.  

On Chinese social media, Sino Weibo, the posts with the tag “Qianxi Technology” has been read as high as 200 million times, showing Chinese people’s passion for new technological solutions. The Robotics industry in China witnessed a boom at Beijing Winter Olympics. Various robots were made to provide hi-tech services for Olympics game participants, for example, hotel check-in, food delivery, translation and security inspection, and so on. At the same time, pandemic control is one of the most important tasks. Robotics technology played an essential role in meeting various needs while smoothing the operation of the events.  


Davis, K. (2020, Jul 1). Welcome to Chinas latest  robot restaurant. World Economic Forum. 

Foodom is Chinas First Fully Automated Robot Restaurant. (2020, Jan 14). The Yellrobot. 

Liu Y. (2022, Mar 6). Chinas robotics industry witnesses a boom at Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. Global Times. 

Winter Olympics black technology, European and American athletes are eye-opening, admitting that they have been deceived by Western media for many years. (2022, Sep 12). iMeida.