A View from Kristina Grifantini

A Strange New Take on Telepresence

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

  • August 5, 2010

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:

Weren't able to make it to EmTech Digital?
We've got you covered.

Watch videos here

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.
  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.