News / Science & Technology

Family Robots – The Next Big Thing?

Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?i
X
August 20, 2014 4:05 AM
Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
George Putic

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us.

Several years after it was introduced to the world, the advanced Japanese humanoid robot Asimo is still serving only as a demonstration and experimentation platform. Even if available for purchase, it would be too expensive for ordinary families.

It is much easier and cheaper to build a robot like Jibo, which uses simple movements and has the ability to interact with people through sound, pictures and touch.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher Cynthia Breazeal created Jibo initially as a platform for exploring how people communicate with technology.

“Jibo as a robot is something that can move, with cameras that can move and see you and interact with you like a living thing, so to speak. It can bring content to life off the screen in an entirely new way,” explained Brezeal.

Jibo can remind you about appointments, take photos, entertain people and tell stories to children.

Breazeal said it also incorporates touch-sensitive technology.

“People often communicate through touch, so they might pat Jibo if it does something that they like and Jibo can actually learn from that,” said Breazeal.

Therapists at Amici di Nico Autism Center, in Lecce, Italy, use a small talking robot to treat autistic children.

11-year old Marco has shown great improvement in focusing and communication since he started playing with the robot that carefully keeps track of the child's behavior, said engineer Giuseppe Palestra.

"We would like to be one step ahead of state of the art, so that we can make the human-robot interaction better, and let's say 'humanize' the interaction between the robot and the child," said Palestra.

Researchers say they want to develop robots that can be programmed for individual patients, because each child reacts differently to outside stimuli.

French researcher Pierre Lebeau’s family robot Keecker was designed as an entertainment platform that can follow its owner around.

“I came up with the idea of a computer with a projector inside and a great sound system and a camera, something that can move and go to any room to give me a kind of TV-like experience, but anywhere I want without the cables and the complexity,” said Lebeau.

Researchers say robots intended for entertainment may soon be on the market with prices ranging from about $500 to $5,000 - still expensive for ordinary buyers. Therapeutic robots are still in the experimental phase but they too point to what we can expect from artificial intelligence in the near future.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid