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Forget the Robots--Here Come the Geminoids!

By USA Today

March 16, 2016

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Last weekend's South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival was a showcase for many types of robots, and a highlight was Japanese roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro's demonstration of an android of himself that held unassisted conversations in a very human-like manner.

Ishiguro also discussed the potential of another robot called a geminoid, which enables users to remotely manipulate it and communicate through it via a wearable brain-machine interface.

Noting his androids are already employed in Japan as TV hosts, shopkeepers, and theater actors, Ishiguro predicted "we'll have a robot society in the very near future, in maybe three or five years."

Also showcased at SXSW was Aldebaran Robotics' Pepper, a "companion robot" designed to live and interact with humans in an assistive function. Aldebaran's Rodolphe Gelin said Pepper is intentionally designed to have a non-human-like form. "We don't want to cheat people: if it's a robot, it's a robot," he said. "If you ever have to question [whether] that's a human being or a robot, that's no good."

Another notable demonstration was of Sougwen Chung's Drawing Operations Unit: Generation-1, a robotic arm that draws in real-time symmetry with the artist by following her strokes while generating its own movements.

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