The awesome new trailer for Prometheus has dropped this week and the Ridley Scott directed precursor to his 1979 classic Alien is shaping up to be one of the spectacles of cinema in 2012. The film will reference events and themes which are “yet-to-come” in the movie timeline and one of those themes, as we’ve seen in an amusing and somewhat disturbing viral promo, is Androids.
And we’re not talking about the operating system running your Samsung Galaxy SII, we mean walking talking human replicas interacting with us in our daily missions. Since we’re really looking forward to Prometheus we thought we’d use this week’s REEL to REAL to take a look back at a few of the fantastic and frightening occasions we’ve previously covered on the Gadget Helpline Blog, where droids and robots have come eerily close to becoming a part of our society!
Lonely Lady Droid Seeks Companion
Do you ever get freaked out by those über-realistic looking mannequins in trendy shop windows? You could have sworn that it looked at you as you walked by. If you take a walk down a certain Japanese high street, your suspicions could be quite right.
Approach the window display of the Takashimaya department store in Shinjuku, Tokyo you’ll be greeted by Geminoid F. From a far the droid looks like a real-life lonely lady sitting with phone in hand waiting for that all important call for a special someone. Geminoid F is programmed with realistic expressions, blinks and head movements, in fact Geminoid F has 65 different actions which she uses to react to her “emotions” to what’s happening around her. Upset her, and she’ll break into a sad frown, but do something pleasing and she’ll respond with a sweet but somewhat disturbing smile.
Speech Replicating Droid
If a moving smiling robot girl isn’t disturbing enough how about if she 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!
Socially Aware Learning Droids
If turning the human society into social networking whiners wasn’t enough – now even the robots are at it with a new website called MyRobots.com which pairs automatons to a friend site where they can interact with other droids across the globe!
“You can see MyRobots.com as the Facebook for robots and smart objects.” Say the site’s creators and the network lets a human set up an account on behalf of their mecha, as well as set up a profile and add photos – just like the world popular social network.
At the moment the network is a little bit exclusive (like the early Google+) and only accepts applicants who own the Nao robot, made by Aldebaran Robotics based in France but soon MyRobot will allow sign-ups from a number of other intelligent gadgets letting them update their own statuses based on the tasks they perform. The Canadian makers of the simile social site hope that by letting the bots play together online and in the future MyRobot hopes to create apps hosted on an app store for droids to download and share over cloud internet meaning they will be able to learn from one another and then be able to perform more advanced tasks.