Last week’s Only in Japan covered the robot love machine that gives hugs to the lonely and loveless. We thought that was a litle weird, but today we’re going all out bizarro to tell you what the Far East are up to with some tech that could actually talk back!
Sawada Group has used an air pump to act as lungs to push air up to a section which mirrors our vocal cords, vibrating to create a resonance which expels from the mouth as a vocal sound. Moving the mouth allows for different volumes of air, therefore changes in the “voice” can be heard coming from the back-chatting bot.
Sawada working with Kagawa University has disturbingly replicated the organs of a human mouth using materials such as several types of silicone that mimic the flesh and muscles of our own mouth, as well as a plaster nose replicating human bone structure of the nasal cavity for creating “m” and “n” sounds. There’s even a functioning tongue within the mouth for making those “r” noises. The group has been working on this thing for over a decade and the next step is expected to be a full set of teeth to let the robot have full range of speech.
If all this isn’t creepy enough, even creepier is the fact that the robot mouth uses a microphone sensor to record and replicate, through the artificial muscles, the sounds it hears – this thing actually learns to imitate your voice!