Each time I receive the bi-weekly email from IEEE Robotic News I cannot stop myself from writing a quick post sharing some of the coolest things. This time I found specially interesting – and socially weird – a Japanese humanoid robot that sits on your shoulder and is your friend. It looks to me like a very advanced version of the Tamagotchi, the “virtual” pet created by Bandai in the 90s, source of numerous traumas to little kids who would cry when the Tamagotchi would die. I myself got a good friend’s brother pretty upset when I killed – by accident –  his Tamagotchi. In my defense, nobody had warned me that the poor little thing had already been fed twice that day… those Tamagotchis were so high maintenance and difficult to take care of!

Anyways, back to the post’s topic, this Japanese robot sits on your shoulder and offers company to lonely kids. The coolest feature is that anyone can remotely log into it and control it. This would allow me to have my California friends sitting on my shoulder anytime!

All in all, a bit creepy, but still very interesting:

MH-2 (that’s “MH” for “miniature humanoid”) is a wearable telepresence robot that acts as an avatar for a remote operator. With two 7-DOF arms, a 3-DOF head and 2-DOF body, plus one additional DOF for realistic breathing (!), MH-2 is designed to be able to mimic human actions as accurately and realistically as possible. Think Telenoid, except it can actually do stuff besides wiggle around semi-creepily.

This may seem a little bit weird at first, but here’s the idea: you’ve got a friend or a relative that you want to share an experience with. Like, you’re traveling or something, and you want some company. Instead of having said friend come along with you (we’ll assume that they’re busy as opposed to just antisocial), you can bring along an MH-2 instead. Back home, your friend puts on a 360-degree immersive 3D display and stands in front of some sort of motion capture environment (like a Kinect, for example). Then, they get to see whatever the MH-2 sees. Meanwhile, the robot on your shoulder acts like an avatar, duplicating the speech and gestures of your friend right there for you to interact with directly.

 

Finally, this article summarizes the most recent advances and devices presented at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation a couple of weeks ago in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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