Lifelike Communication Android Developed To Assist People

Toshiba Corporation has developed a lifelike communication android named Miss Aiko Chihira, that can show simple gestures like moving arms and hands and use sign language which is for now only limited to Japanese.

The android, which is presently a prototype, was developed in joint effort with aLab Inc., Osaka University, Shibaura Institute of Technology, and Shonan Institute of Technology. The android is currently being showcased at CEATEC JAPAN 2014, which will be held till the 11th of October.

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According to the press release, the company will continue to develop towards achieving a service robot able to assist people in many fields including healthcare, welfare, agriculture and entertainment.

So what does the lifelike communication android look like?

Well, it has the appearance of a friendly young Japanese lady, an impression accentuated by blinking eyes and a warm smile. As stated above, the features are too limited as at present the android can show only simple gestures. However, Toshiba hopes to make it more sophisticated social robot by 2020 by incorporating its wide-ranging technologies which may include sensing, speech synthesis and speech recognition, so that the robot can be a companion for the elderly and people with dementia by tele-counselling them with the technologies incorporated.

The development of the lifelike communication android could not have been successful without Toshiba’s partnership with those leading institutions as each of them has their own technologies.

Toshiba developed an algorithm to coordinate the movement of 43 actuators in the joints of android. Shibaura Institute of Technology and Shonan Institute of Technology contributed robot driving and sensor-based motion teaching technologies. And, aLab Inc. and Osaka University created the technologies required to make a body with a human-like resemblance and emulate human expressions. That is why the android has the appearance of human and moves like one; Toshiba aims to put it into practical use as a receptionist or as an exhibition attendant within next year.

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Their contributions are quite an endeavor. These robots are not meant to replace human workers, but hopefully they are expected to find widespread use in many fields.