Tag: ‘ATR’

Elfoid: Humanoid mobile phone

04 Mar 2011

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --
Elfoid -- a REAL android phone

Robotics researchers from Osaka University have teamed up with NTT Docomo and Qualcomm to develop a handheld humanoid phone that brings a new dimension to mobile communications. A prototype of the device -- called "Elfoid P1" -- was unveiled at a presentation in Tokyo on March 3.

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --

The Elfoid phone is a miniature version of the Telenoid R1 robot developed last year by a research team led by Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro. The current prototype measures 20 centimeters (8 in) long, is covered in a soft fleshy urethane skin, and has the same genderless and ageless appearance as the Telenoid. The control buttons are embedded in the chest, which glows green when the Elfoid is in use.

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --
Dr. Ishiguro with Telenoid and Elfoid [Photo by: eSeL.at]

Like the full-sized Telenoid robot, the Elfoid handset is designed to add an element of realism to long-distance communication by recreating the physical presence of a remote user.

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --
[Photo: Ars Electronica]

Equipped with a camera and motion-capture system, the Elfoid phone will be able to watch the user's face and transmit motion data to another Elfoid phone, which can then reproduce the face and head movements in real-time.

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --
[Photo by: d_&_r]

The current prototype is unable to move, but future versions will incorporate tiny motors and parts made from shape-memory alloys, allowing the Elfoid to move its eyes, mouth, neck and arms. Other features will include a temperature sensor, accelerometer, and an easy-to-use voice and gesture based interface.

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --
[Photo by: antjeverena]

The developers hope to have a fully operational Elfoid mobile phone within five years.

[Sources: ATR, Gizmodo Japan, Yomiuri]

Telenoid R1 minimalist humanoid robot

02 Aug 2010

Researchers from Osaka University have teamed up with the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute (ATR) to develop a minimalist humanoid robot that recreates the physical presence of a remote user.

Telenoid humanoid robot --

Named "Telenoid R1," the teleoperated communication robot measures 80 centimeters (31 in) tall and weighs 5 kilograms (11 lbs). The portable machine features a soft silicone body that is pleasant to the touch, and it uses 9 actuators to move its eyes, mouth, head and rudimentary limbs.

Telenoid humanoid robot -- Telenoid humanoid robot --
Data is transmitted between the user and robot via Internet connection

The Telenoid R1 robot is designed to add an element of realism to long-distance communication by recreating the physical presence of the remote user. The robot's actions mirror those of the remote user, whose movements are monitored by real-time face tracking software on the user's computer. Users can also transmit their voice through the robot's embedded speakers.

Telenoid humanoid robot --
Telenoid R1 with Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro (Osaka University)

The Telenoid R1 is endowed with only the most basic human features -- just enough to recreate the physical presence of the remote user, according to robot's creators. The robot's androgynous and ageless look makes it suitable for a wide range of users, whether they are male, female, young or old.

Telenoid humanoid robot --
English lessons can be conducted via the Telenoid R1 robot

At the unveiling in Osaka on August 1, the developers announced plans to begin selling two versions of the minimalist humanoid in October. The high-end model will be priced at about 3 million yen ($35,000), and a cheaper model will be available for about 700,000 yen ($8,000).

Here's a short video demonstration.

[Sources: Telenoid, AFP, Yomiuri]

Geminoid F: Remote-control female android

05 Apr 2010

+ Video

Researchers from the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University have teamed up with robot maker Kokoro Co., Ltd. to create a realistic-looking remote-control female android that mimics the facial expressions and speech of a human operator.

Modeled after a woman in her twenties, the android -- called Geminoid F (the "F" stands for female) -- has long black hair, soft silicone skin, and a set of lifelike teeth that allow her to produce a natural smile.

Geminoid F, tele-operated fembot --

According to the developers, the robot's friendly and approachable appearance makes her suitable for receptionist work at sites such as museums. The researchers also plan to test her ability to put hospital patients at ease.

The research is being led by Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, who is known for creating teleoperated robot twins such as the celebrated Geminoid HI-1, which was modeled after himself.

Geminoid F --

The new Geminoid F can produce facial expressions more naturally than its predecessors -- and it does so with a much more efficient design. While the previous Geminoid HI-1 model was equipped with 46 pneumatic actuators, the Geminoid F uses only 12.

In addition, the entire air servo control system is housed within the robot's body and is powered by a small external compressor that runs on standard household electricity.

Geminoid F --
Geminoid F and her human counterpart, wearing outfits by fashion designer Junko Koshino

The Geminoid F's easy-to-use teleoperation system, which was developed by ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories, consists of a smart camera that tracks the operator's facial movements. The corresponding data is relayed to the robot's control system, which coordinates the movement of the pneumatic actuators to reproduce the expressions on the android's face.

The efficient design makes the robot much cheaper to produce than previous models. Kokoro plans to begin selling copies of the Geminoid F next month for about 10 million yen ($110,000) each.

[Via: Kokoro, AFP]

Robovie-II helps with the grocery shopping

15 Dec 2009

A robot designed to help with the grocery shopping is being tested at a Kyoto-area supermarket.

+ Video

The robotic assistant -- an advanced version of the Robovie-II android developed by Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR) -- is the centerpiece of a networked system of robots, sensors and digital technology designed to make shopping more convenient and entertaining for the elderly. ATR is testing the experimental system at the Apita-Seikadai supermarket in Kyoto until March 2010.

To use the system, shoppers first create a shopping list at home using a special mobile device (they simply tell the robot's on-screen avatar what they want to buy before going to the supermarket). Later, when the customer arrives at the store, sensors automatically detect the mobile device. The user's data is wirelessly transmitted to a waiting robot, which greets the customer by name and says, "Let's start shopping."

In the video above, which shows part of a test conducted on December 10, the child-sized robot accompanies a 67-year-old woman while she shops for mandarin oranges and broccoli. In addition to carrying the woman's shopping basket, the robot reminds her to get the mandarin oranges, recommends the apples (which the robot says are delicious this season), reminds her to get the broccoli, and suggests including lettuce in her salad along with the broccoli. On several occasions, the robot remarks on how delicious the items look.

When asked her impression of the system after the demonstration, the woman said she felt almost as if she were shopping with her grandchild, and she said it was fun talking with the robot.

[Source: Robot Watch]

Asimo robot controlled by human thought (video)

31 Mar 2009

Honda's brain-machine interface for robot control --

Honda has developed new brain-machine interface (BMI) technology that allows humans to control the Asimo humanoid robot simply by thinking certain thoughts.

The BMI system, which Honda developed along with Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR) and Shimadzu Corporation, consists of a sensor-laden helmet that measures the user's brain activity and a computer that analyzes the thought patterns and relays them as wireless commands to the robot. (Watch video.)

When the user simply thinks about moving his or her right hand, the pre-programmed Asimo responds several seconds later by raising its right arm. Likewise, Asimo lifts its left arm when the person thinks about moving their left hand, it begins to walk when the person thinks about moving their legs, and it holds its hand up in front of its mouth when the person thinks about moving their tongue.

Honda BMI -- The high-precision BMI technology relies on three different types of brain activity measurements. EEG (electroencephalography) sensors measure the slight fluctuations in electrical potential on the scalp that occur when thinking, while NIRS (near-infrared spectroscopy) sensors measure changes in cerebral blood flow. Newly developed information extraction technology is used to process the complex data from these two types of sensors, resulting in a more accurate reading. The system reportedly has an accuracy rate of more than 90%.

The use of EEG and NIRS sensors makes the new system more compact than previous BMI systems that rely on bulkier fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) technology. Although the system is small enough to be transported from place to place, the developers plan to further reduce the size.

Honda, which has been conducting BMI research and development with ATR since 2005, is looking into the possibility of one day using this type of interface technology with artificial intelligence and robotics to create devices that users can operate without having to move.

[Source: Honda press release]

Scientists extract images directly from brain

12 Dec 2008

ATR mind reader --

Researchers from Japan's ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories have developed new brain analysis technology that can reconstruct the images inside a person's mind and display them on a computer monitor, it was announced on December 11. According to the researchers, further development of the technology may soon make it possible to view other people's dreams while they sleep.

The scientists were able to reconstruct various images viewed by a person by analyzing changes in their cerebral blood flow. Using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine, the researchers first mapped the blood flow changes that occurred in the cerebral visual cortex as subjects viewed various images held in front of their eyes. Subjects were shown 400 random 10 x 10 pixel black-and-white images for a period of 12 seconds each. While the fMRI machine monitored the changes in brain activity, a computer crunched the data and learned to associate the various changes in brain activity with the different image designs.

Then, when the test subjects were shown a completely new set of images, such as the letters N-E-U-R-O-N, the system was able to reconstruct and display what the test subjects were viewing based solely on their brain activity.

For now, the system is only able to reproduce simple black-and-white images. But Dr. Kang Cheng, a researcher from the RIKEN Brain Science Institute, suggests that improving the measurement accuracy will make it possible to reproduce images in color.

"These results are a breakthrough in terms of understanding brain activity," says Dr. Cheng. "In as little as 10 years, advances in this field of research may make it possible to read a person's thoughts with some degree of accuracy."

The researchers suggest a future version of this technology could be applied in the fields of art and design -- particularly if it becomes possible to quickly and accurately access images existing inside an artist's head. The technology might also lead to new treatments for conditions such as psychiatric disorders involving hallucinations, by providing doctors a direct window into the mind of the patient.

ATR chief researcher Yukiyasu Kamitani says, "This technology can also be applied to senses other than vision. In the future, it may also become possible to read feelings and complicated emotional states."

The research results appear in the December 11 issue of US science journal Neuron.

[Source: Chunichi]

Japan’s cyborg research enters the skull

17 Apr 2008

Mind-controlled robot arm -- Researchers at Osaka University are stepping up efforts to develop robotic body parts controlled by thought, by placing electrode sheets directly on the surface of the brain. Led by Osaka University Medical School neurosurgery professor Toshiki Yoshimine, the research marks Japan's first foray into invasive (i.e. requiring open-skull surgery) brain-machine interface research on human test subjects. The aim of the research is to develop real-time mind-controlled robotic limbs for the disabled, according to an announcement made at an April 16 symposium in Aichi prefecture.

Although brain waves can be measured from outside the scalp, a stronger, more accurate signal can be obtained by placing sensors directly on the brain -- but that requires open-skull surgery, making it more difficult to recruit volunteer test subjects.

The researchers, who have filed a license application with the Osaka University Hospital ethics board, are working to enlist willing subjects already scheduled to have brain electrodes implanted for the purpose of monitoring epilepsy or other conditions. The procedure, which does not involve puncturing the cortex, places an electrode sheet at the central sulcus, a fold across the center of the brain near the primary motor cortex (which is responsible for planning and executing movements).

To date, the researchers have worked with four test subjects to record brain wave activity generated as they move their arms, elbows and fingers. Working with Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR), the researchers have developed a method for analyzing the brain waves to determine the subject's intended activity to an accuracy of greater than 80%. The next step is to use the data to control robot arms developed by the University of Tokyo's Department of Precision Engineering.

[Source: Asahi]

Robovie droid helps lost shoppers

25 Jan 2008

Robovie --

The Osaka-based Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute (ATR) has developed a crowd-monitoring humanoid robot that recognizes when people are lost and helps them find their way.

In a series of demonstrations conducted from January 22 to 24, a souped-up version of ATR's Robovie humanoid robot monitored people as they passed through a 100 square meter (1,076 sq ft) section of the Universal Citywalk Osaka shopping center. Relying on data from 16 cameras, 6 laser range finders and 9 RFID tag readers installed in and around the area, the robot was able to watch up to 20 people at a time, pinpoint their locations to within a few centimeters, and classify each individual's behavior into one of 10 categories (waiting, wandering, walking fast, running, etc.).

Robovie -- Whenever Robovie spotted people who looked disoriented, the child-sized droid wheeled up to them and asked, "Are you lost?" If so, the robot provided simple directions to the destination and pointed the way. If not, the robot proceeded to recommend nearby shops and restaurants.

ATR says the Robovie test is the first in a long series of robot-related demonstrations to be conducted at Universal Citywalk Osaka. This week, the company announced it was establishing a permanent base in the shopping center, which will serve as a real-world environment for testing new robot-oriented business ideas. In June, the company plans to start hiring out its machines to companies toying with the idea of employing robots.

[Sources: Robot Watch, Yomiuri, Nikkei]