Telenoid R1 robot lets you phone a robotic friend
Telenoid R1 mirrors the movements of a remote user
It’s been suggested that one of the main reasons video calling hasn’t taken off is because a lot of the time people want to be heard and not seen. A new robot would allow callers to remain unseen, while creating a physical presence of the caller for the receiver of the call. Developed at Osaka University in collaboration with the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR) – the creators of Robovie II – Telenoid R1 is a portable robot that is designed to relay a remote user’s presence during long distance communications by mirroring their movements.
With an appearance described as “minimalist human,” Telenoid is designed to appear human, while looking ambiguous enough to appear both male and female, and old or young. Its creators believe its vague appearance will more effectively enable Telenoid to take on the guise of a wide range of users during phone calls. Its child-size body is covered with a soft skin texture to enhance its human-like appearance.
Data collected using real-time face tracking software on the remote user’s computer is sent via the Internet to Telenoid, which then mirror’s the user’s movements. The user’s voice is also transmitted through Telenoid’s embedded speakers.
ATR expects Telenoid R1 to be used as a new communication media and will actually be distributed by Japan’s Eager Co. Ltd. At the robot’s unveiling on August 1, in Osaka, the developers announced plans to begin selling versions of Telenoid R1 in October. The high-end model will go for about three million yen (approx. US$35,140), while the cheaper model will sell for about 700,000 yen (approx. US$8,200). With the market for creepy, androgynous, child-like robots probably not that great outside of Japan, it seems unlikely Telenoid will get a wider release.
Via Pink Tentacle
About the Author
Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.
All articles by Darren Quick
I must say that I find something profoundly disturbing about a ghost body shape of Telenoid R1. Its white skin does not help either in that department. I understand that video calling is not quite popular option for many users, but making a little creepy looking telepresence robot that cannot really move on its own and is really just a fancy phone is taking it a bit too far.
Although markets might be limited for the telepresence robots at this moment but there might be more market growth opportunities than for this thing that looks like designers have tried to move away from identifying it as a humanoid and have only gone half-way through in design, when they have decided stop and let it be. Sort of unfinished, don't you think?
I find it really hard to imagine, in most of the world, coming across something like this at someone's house outside of Halloween holiday season.
Creepy, like Saw.
The bot shown in the article is a test platform only. The main goal is to join an upscale graphics program with a mimicing robotic interface. When all is in place and upgraded the video rep (avatar) should look similar to the user....kind of like match.com photos.
I think a 2D animated avatar image on a smartphone or laptop screen would work as well, at far less cost. Facial recognition software could be tweaked easily enough to identify facial expressions and adjust the avatar picture accordingly.
I find it a cool yet freaky. It reminds me of the space child from the 2001; A Space Odyssey movie.
Not sure I wanna have a conversation with Casper...
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