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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Robot of the Day: Ishiguro and his "twin brother" Geminoid

Ever wished you could have a secret twin brother so he could go to classes for you while you sleep in or go out for a field trip? Well, maybe that dream could come true some day thanks to robotics and android technologies!

When Dr. Ishiguro decided to build an android robot for his research, he thought to himself, "why not build one that just looks like me?" And not long after, his new "twin brother", Genimoid, was born into this crazy human world!

Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro of the Osaka University is the general co-chair of this years HRI conference. He was also one of the panelist in the panel discussion in the HRI Young Pioneers Workshop I was attending, so I finally met him in person, exccept for a fraction of a second, I wondered if it was really him, or his "twin brother" that was sitting at the front row of the room. :)

Dr. Ishiguro's ultimate goal in researching android and human-robot interaction is to really learn and understand about human race itself. His grad students had built behaviors resembling his behaviors into the robot, but Dr. Ishiguro didn't think he had actually behaved like that. I guess sometimes we don't really know ourselves, and looking at oneself as from an external viewing angle might be a very strange and suprising experience.

Geminoid had limited capabilities. He could move his head, his hands, and twich his legs. He blinks and moves his lips when he talks. He could also show some limited facial expressions. There are 50+ motors inside him, though he was not built to walk around, so should we say, he was born paralyzed? But he could hear, see, and speak, and one of his applications is for tele-presense, so Dr. Ishiguro could speak at a remote location, and the robot will lip sync with him through controls over the Internet.

Dr. Ishiguro's advice on career were very simple: 1) Do really good work, and 2) Work on new things. "If you do that," he said, "then good things will just happen to you!"

Picture of the Day:

If you have not seen this movie, I would recommend it. See what consequences you might have to face when you can just duplicate yourself.