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There’s no “Creepiest Product Award” at the 2015 International CES, but if there was, the runaway winner would be Toshiba’s ChihiraAico humanoid robot.
The robot is designed to resemble a a 32-year-old Japanese hostess that makes conversation, sings and could one day play classical music or take care of people with dementia.
ChihiraAico is just a concept at this point, but Toshiba’s goal for the robot is to “achieve real heart-warming communication with human-like facial expression,” according to Mashable.
ChihiraAico uses 43 pneumatic actuators for its movements, including 24 in its shoulders, arms and hands and 15 in the face. She can move her hands and communicate in Japanese sign language. She can also be happy, irritated or sad – and even cry.
However, Toshiba hopes that through improvements in artificial intelligence (AI) technology, it can in 2020 release a more sophisticated version of the humanoid.
“We chose a very realistic appearance and movement, which can be used for the service industry. We plan to extend our technology to an automatic response,” says Hitoshi Tokuda, manager of marketing for Toshiba’s business development division. “We plan to use [ChihiraAico] with elderly people who have conditions such as dementia and she can be connected to a counselor or doctor.”
And here’s a video of ChihiraAico “singing” like John Denver. We apologize for the ensuing nightmares.
Humanoid robots are quite popular in Japan. In June 2014, the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation added humanoid robots to its staff to show visitors around. The humanoids were created by renowned Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro.
Otonaroid is working a “science communicator” and will speak directly with visitors, while Kodomoroid is a “broadcaster” that read news reports. The purpose of the humanoids, which were designed to look as humanlike as possible with their smooth silicon skin and eloquent articulation, is to encourage interaction between humans and robots and explore what differentiates the two.