The Inquirer-Home

Japan shows off a dancing robot

Girls Aloud should be worried
Mon Oct 18 2010, 15:49
boffin-watch

SHOWING THAT it takes nothing more than a fancy hair-do and some barely rhythmic movements to make men stand around gawping, some Japanese boffins have created a perfectly adequate female dance-bot.

The Daily Mail reports that the robot is called HRP-4C, or Divabot, and was developed by Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.

According to the Daily Mail the public research and tech organisation has created software that will let anyone, even people with no robotic expertise, to program its movements. Which in the wrong hands could be very dangerous indeed.

Perhaps hoping to stave off any unwanted romantic attention, the robot has rather large, mannish hands. And, according to the Internet, we should all know what that means.

Those hands will not be put to carpentry or hod-carrying though, and the boffins have much loftier ambitions for their creation. "With the software, we hope to make robots act, sing and even walk on a catwalk during a fashion show. We want to create a new content industry with the technology," said Shinichiro Nakazawa of the institute.

If you've ever had a nightmare, confused the film Metropolis with Top of the Pops, or attempted to teach someone how to walk again after a car crash, you might be prepared for the sight of the dance-bot, but we caution you anyway - it is fairly creepy stuff.

But, it's good. The Japanese are miles ahead of anyone else when it comes to robotics, and this little robotic 'lady' is one of the most impressive we've seen yet.

At first glance it could be a Japanese Cheryl Cole. It moves its arms and its legs and it is definitely on stage when a song is being played.

Diva-bot also has an electronically engineered voice, while its facial expressions are designed to follow what the voice is saying. Again, this has the potential to be very weird, and very weirdly used.

"For the robot's facial expressions, we've developed another new technology, called Vocawatcher. This analyses a video of a person singing, to create expressions naturally," added Nakazawa, who is seemingly unaware that he is building his own replacement.

Our lawyers have cautioned us against making other suggestions on how these robots might be used, and really took a dislike to the idea that they might make suitable marketing assistants for Mark Hurd, but perhaps you can think of some ideas yourselves. µ

 

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