Skip to Content

A Strange New Take on Telepresence

Could a blob-like robot better convey the presence of a remote user?

Many telepresence robots–like Anybot and Texai–resemble a teleconferencing system on wheels. Roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro, who has previously created some unnervingly realistic humanoid machines, has a different idea. His newest and arguably most unsettling robot yet is Telenoid, which resembles a barely-formed robotic child, with a soft body, clay-like face and stubs instead of limbs.

Credit: Osaka University

Ishiguro explains that Telenoid is meant to represent a human presence, and could be used for remote work, teaching or conversation. Unlike other telepresence bots, he says, Telenoid is able to be hugged and handled while a user is talking to a remote acquaintance.

The researchers write on the project’s research page:

Telenoid R1 was designed to appear and to behave as a minimalistic human; at the very first glance, one can easily recognize the Telenoid as a human while the Telenoid appear as both male and female, as both old and young. By this minimal design, the Telenoid allows people to feel as if an acquaintance in the distance is next to you.

To operate Telenoid, a user uses a webcam and custom telepresence software. A tracking system tracks the user’s head movements and voice. Eager Co. Ltd will distribute research and commercial versions of the robot by the end of the year.

Watch a video of Telenoid in action below:

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Death and Jeff Bezos
Death and Jeff Bezos

Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever

Funders of a deep-pocketed new "rejuvenation" startup are said to include Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner.

Professor Gang Chen of MIT
Professor Gang Chen of MIT

All charges against China Initiative defendant Gang Chen have been dismissed

MIT professor Gang Chen was one of the most prominent scientists charged under the China Initiative, a Justice Department effort meant to counter economic espionage and national security threats.

mouse engineered to grow human hair
mouse engineered to grow human hair

Going bald? Lab-grown hair cells could be on the way

These biotech companies are reprogramming cells to treat baldness, but it’s still early days.

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.