Have you ever imagined sharing your deepest secrets or most embarrassing moments with someone without the apprehension of ridicule or even being chastised? This may now be possible as we witness the rise of the emo robots. All this due to innovators like Cynthia Breazeal, Director of the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media labs, who is more popular as the creator of Leonardo, the cuddly little monster whom everyone loves at first sight.
You will be pleasantly surprised after your first encounter with Leonardo. This little furry devil stands proud at 2.5 ft and reaches out its paws to touch you when you smile and say ‘Hello’. It tries to decipher cues from the way you speak and responds to its surroundings and humans in the most social way possible. Doing away with the archaic ways in which we used to pass commands and instructions to robots until now, Leonardo sees, listens and responds to natural human speech. What’s more – it’s a pleasure watching its near-human facial expressions in real time. In fact, it is the most expressive robot in the world today!
Leonardo has not been designed to walk but he more than makes up for this with his social skills. Once you are introduced to him, he can instantly recognise you the next time you meet and will even call you by your name, just like an acquaintance. As you begin to chit-chat with this little guy, he surprises you by his cute demeanor, his varied expressions ranging from being amused to getting frightened are a sight. He picks up the emotional labelling from his interaction with humans and adopts it into his electrical persona. In fact it’s a thick maze of algorithms and hi-tech science behind this cute furry marvel – something that Cynthia Breazeal and the famous Stan Winston studio has spent years developing and designing. Watch cute Leo in action.
In what seems like the next big step in robotics, “social robots” like Leonardo and Kismet surely show the way ahead. Cynthia Breazeal, whose first love was space robotics, is an old hand in the development and study of humonoid robots. Her project at MIT during her doctoral research was Kismet. A lot of groundwork involving diverse subjects like psychology, evolution, cognitive science, and infant social development has gone into developing Kismet. And the result – a robot that can respond emotionally to humans just like another human being. It gathers information from its human counterpart by way of visual and auditory inputs and accordingly responds to them in an appropriate social manner. In terms of robotics, this is ‘one giant leap for humans’, as this is a crossover to making robots who will be just like us in the near future. See how Kismet interacts with humans.
But one quick apocalyptic warning on the way out – beware of the deceptive smiles from pretty strangers on the sidewalk. They may in fact be emo-automations!
Child’s play, anyone?
How to remotely control your PC from your smartphone (for free)
About Sashank Nandury
Sashank was an accountant before he woke up on the wrong side of the bed one day and decided that he wanted to be a writer. As a result of which the erstwhile dominant left side of his brain is at constant war with the right – and he deals with both. He's an associate editor for wwwireframe. He believes that penguins have a world domination conspiracy going for them.