Tuesday, April 27, 2010

David Hanson: Robots that "show emotion"

By Carlee C.

In this day and age we know robots as things of destruction, and associate them with war and violence. David Hanson has provided me with a very different outlook. He has created robots that can mimic your emotions and share your feelings; he has looked into the future of friendly robotics.

Mr. Hanson has built twenty robots in the past eight years while getting his PHD. The robots he invented have many characteristics and abilities that are identical to the ones we posses. They can mimic emotions, share feelings, make eye contact and generally behave and appear as normal human beings. This is his passion and career to create and build these robots that can, "model how you’re feeling and who you are and build a relationship with you." Mr. Hanson has used two major ideas to produce these robots to be so much like ourselves; "one, and the perception of people. Two, the natural interface so that it’s more intuitive for you to interact with the robot." In David Hanson's presentation he gave a demonstration with one of his robots that copied his facial expressions. This robot, like many of his creations was made of a material called "Frubber" which allows the robot to make a variety of facial expressions. These robots have an enormous amount of potential in surpassing our human intelligence while appearing like the human race. David Hanson has a very creative outlook on the future of robots and produces them in ways to help better your life.

During this talk, Mr. Hanson provided the viewer with an extensive amount of information and proof to support his findings and logic for the entire idea of his take on robots. They are using a new material called "Frubber", working with a Machine Perception Lab in San Diego that has a "remarkable facial expression technology that recognizes what facial expressions you'rr making. It also recognizes where you’re looking, your head orientation and controlling it with the software that we call the Character Engine." He also validates his information and technology by giving the audience a demonstration on what the final outcome is. First he shows us, the viewers, an example of the robotic head miming the expressions on David Hanson's face. Then, he had pictures and explained the big picture of everything with the model of Philip K Dick. "We put a collection of his interviews and correspondences in a huge database of thousands of pages and then used the natural language processing to allow you to have an actual conversation with him. Another project he is developing is a "little character which is a spokes bot for friendly artificial intelligence, friendly machine intelligence." They are working with low cost materials so that the robot could become a part of the average person's life. It is around $299 and it gets smarter over the years; as the child’s intelligence grows, so does the robot's. Overall, David Hanson's presentation was very informative, interesting and well supported with examples. He seemed confident in what he was talking about and gave a great presentation.

In the long run, I think this technology and product will be successful. It is interesting and new to the general public, would make a wonderful companion to children who are the only child in a family or say, someone who has just lost their partner. David Hanson has invested a great amount of time and effort into these robots and presents an appealing idea to the public.

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