Toshiba AI

Saturday 24th January 2015

Businesses Are Serious About Developing Androids

At the CES, the crowd was mesmerized by Chihira Aico, Toshiba’s talking android in a pink party dress.

Chihira is a concept model and her creators are exploring applications while working on ways to make her seem more human. They are refining her movements and language skills. She can do a great presentation, but developers are not satisfied, they want her to interact with people.

She’s a complicated machine. Over 40 motors in her joints coordinate her moves, driven by  software developed by Toshiba under the direction of Hitoshi Tokuda. The 15 tiny air pumps in her face control the blinking of her eyes and move her jaws and mouth as she speaks. Osaka University managed the muscle research for Chihira, building on previous work on prosthetic limbs.

Businesses are serious about developing androids to cut costs. Hospitals are running trials with the robot, and she’s being retrofitted for assisted living.

Robots have started interfacing directly with humans, though interaction is limited. For Ebola patients, robots use infrared lights to monitor the skin temperature and blood oxygen. They can ask a few questions and serve food and drinks. With more natural language processing, robots may converse with patients. Eventually, they could be suited for jobs in EMS, but they need more development – Susan Kalla

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