At last weeks Robo Expo amongst the impressive innovations on show, a team from Dr Kabe’s Lab at Waseada University showcased a number of interesting concepts including their snore preventing polar bear robot we introduced you to last week. Along with “Jukusui-Kun” their polar bear pillow, Dr Kabe and his students also demonstrated their sympathy sharing Clown Robot, “Pierobo”, and “Toco-chan” a communicative Panda.
Toco-chan is an interactive robot that Dr Kabe’s students developed with the aim of providing care and comfort to Japan’s aging population. Sticking with the cute bear image, the robot Panda was developed to analyze interaction between humans and robot in order to explore the possibility of a future where “human machine interaction is not a one sided relationship”.
The Panda robot uses a series of different technologies incorporated within it including voice recognition software, facial detection and movement detection. Users can communicate with Toco Chan which responds in real time whilst analyzing the facial expression of the person, and being able to detect whether the user is happy or not. The robot also is capable of moving its head and arms according to the location of the user. The students envisage the robot being used to comfort lonely elderly users by providing close to human interaction in the future.
Pierobo, a play on Piero meaning clown in Japanese and Robot, the students told us, is a “one-of-a-kind interface robot” that also has been developed with the aging population in mind. What looks like a digital photo frame makes up the head of a robot clown body which interacts with users through their five senses. The robot is apparently able to feel “empathy for users using their interactive motions”. By choosing pictures that have been uploaded to the robot, users can interact with them. The robot then communicates with the user through appropriately thought out responses that match the emotion conveyed in the photo.
The aging population is big business in Japan and many companies have been investing in new technologies that look to answer the growing problems. Innovation such as those on show from Dr Kabe’s students will be particularly important in the future as society looks to technology in a bid to provide the necessary care needed.