[CEATEC 2010] In Japan, it’s been a long dream that robots would one day take care of the aging population as the demographic reality of an aging country hits. Unfortunately, current efforts have not paid off despite more than a decade of research on the subject. It turns out that older people (or kids) don’t like to be told what to do by a (remotely) humanoid-looking machine. It’s freaky and it’s not friendly. Fujitsu thinks that it has found a better way: use a friendly robot that would suggest, rather than “police”, the people under its care. Thanks to a webcam in its nose, it can recognize who it is interacting with, and it communicates by an array of body, neck and face animations. The robot can also tell (guess) what the current state of its human “partner” is (happy, sad, not moving…). In addition to its visual capabilities, the teddy bear also has an array of sensors that will tall its program if it’s being touched/dripped/move around. Of course, it has microphones as well.
Whether Fujitsu succeeds or not, we’ll see, but changing course is certainly a good idea at this point and it’s true that when the teddy bear gestures to notify “lunch time”, you’re more inclined to take it positively than if it was 300lbs robot on wheels.