Thursday, October 8, 2009

For the Love of Clunkies

And this Canadian guy got it right:

Inventor unveils anatomically correct fem-bot

Posted Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:33am AEDT
Updated Wed Dec 17, 2008 4:14pm AEDT
$24,000 woman...Aiko's anatomically-correct form has sparked some controversy.

$24,000 woman...Aiko's anatomically-correct form has sparked some controversy. (supplied:

Still looking for that special something for the friend who has everything?

A Canadian robotics enthusiast may have solved your problem with his invention of a life-sized female robot which can read newspapers and maps, recognise faces and even clean your ears.

News reports have dubbed the android the perfect wife, but the inventor insists there is nothing strange going on.

She may not be the best conversationalist, but Aiko the Android is pretty flexible when it comes to chores and making company.

Made of silicon and electronics, the life-size robot with soft Asian features and shiny, dark, shoulder length hair can recognise faces and objects.

The inventor is 33-year-old Canadian Le Trung, who has spent $24,000 on the project.

"Basically, it's a hobby, I have enjoyed building robots since I was four. This time I built an android which looks almost human and tries to mimic human behaviour," he said.

With more than 13,000 phrases in English and Japanese at her disposal, Aiko can have reasonable chat. She can read the newspaper, learn the layout of buildings and offer people directions or tell them to take an umbrella if it is raining.

According to Mr Trung, Aiko could prove to be a handy personal assistant.

"Basically, [she can] do basic stuff like face recognition, could do some maths, colours, could feel pain sensations," he said.

"She can do weather - access the weather stations, she can MSN your friend to cancel your going to the movies, she can be used as a receptionist or at an information desk."

She is also equipped with touch sensors and can indicate pain or annoyance.

Weighing 32 kilos, with a height of 152 centimetres and a bust of 82 centimetres, the most controversial feature of Aiko has proven to be her anatomically correct body.

Mr Trung denies he designed Aiko for sexual purposes. But he is hoping one day she will be able to clean his ears when he lies down on her lap.

He insists Aiko has far more useful skills, such as opening doors for grandparents, or reading to them.

Damian Conway from Thoughtstream IT Consultants says while Aiko is not an example of artificial intelligence, she is sophisticated enough to be useful, like an extra set of eyes with a brain behind them.

"We can pretty much say that she's not artificially intelligent. She's a set of very sophisticated responses that achieve important goals. But then, so also is an automobile," he said.

"If you can't read the paper yourself, it would be nice to have something that could read it to you. If you can't, for example, read the label on a pill bottle, it might be very nice to have some technology that could do that," he said.

"It mightn't necessarily look like a young Japanese girl. That technology doesn't have to come in that particular packaging. But that kind of technology is technology that a lot of people could use."

And Mr Conway says Aiko represents a huge change in the way humans interact with technology.

"We're finally starting to see people saying, 'Look, 17th century interfaces really aren't good enough for interacting with modern computers, with the power that they have'," he said.

"So we're going to see over the next couple of decades a shift in the way that we interact with computers. And that's what Aiko is really the harbinger of - new ways of interacting with computers.

"Ways that are, to us, more natural. Ways that seem like interacting with a person."

Based on a report by Emily Bourke for PM on December 17



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