Robot Now Delivers Cell Phone Calls

By David Sims August 03, 2010

Is it just me, or is this whole effort to make lifelike robots getting weird?

Take a minute -- well, 1:47, to be precise -- and watch this YouTube of the Telenoid R1, described in a recent Fox News report as "a life-size robot that speaks, moves, and blinks your phone calls at you."

The robot "has sensors to transmit the movements and sounds of your caller and motors that can replicate them locally," Fox News reports, adding that its creators, researchers at Osaka University and the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute, say this is to allow "people to feel as if an acquaintance in the distance is next to you."

Sure, if your "acquaintance" is a lump of white latex with creepy eyes.

Hiroshio Ishiguro of Osaka University is into this kind of work, creating androids for "an area of robotics research called telepresence, or transmitting a person's presence to a remote location," according to the article.

And we don't mean to snark, it's early days for the technology, after all, Model T Ford-early, but... well, watch the video. As Fox News describes:

"A controller sits at a computer with a webcam and specially developed software. The computer captures voice and tracks the operator's face and head movements; the voice and some of those movements are then transmitted to the Telenoid. The operator can also push buttons to activate other behaviors."

In April TMC's Patrick Barnard reported on an earlier Ishiguro project, saying he had "designed a life-like robot capable of mimicking human facial expressions nearly flawlessly."

The robot, called Geminoid TMF, "can alter its rubber facial skin to imitate a smile, frown, scowl or anything in between based on the user’s facial expressions," Barnard wrote, adding that "the robot’s face is modeled after the user’s face -- so basically it looks like the user’s identical twin."

David Sims is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TechZone360 here.

Edited by Ed Silverstein

TechZone360 Contributing Editor

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