One side of the world is currently shaken with the 8.8. magnitude tsunami in Japan. But what remains unshaken is the advances in technology. There are colossal-sized robots that abound and there are a lot of ethical discussions on the implications of replacing humans with robots. But more than these given developments, there are now mobile robots being developed. And they come with a very unique concept. It jarred me before it impressed me. Care to have a small artificial intelligence at your beck and call? Try Elfoid P1.
The development came from researchers in Osaka University. The mobile robot phone is called Elfoid P1. This phone is shaped like a human person, although the design kind of reminds me of the gingerbread man more than a true human being. But the developers think otherwise. I think I can still wait for some aesthetic improvements in future versions, but for now, this will do.
But according to the researchers, this gingerbread man-like contraption is neat because it will actually recreate the identity of your caller. The artificially intelligent device is supposedly capable of doing this, with speakers at the side of the ears and a small microphone by the feet region. Control buttons at the chest will give the owner a lot of room to manipulate and stay in being the boss of the whole communication or exchange. Like most modern mobile phones, the LED indicator blinks when the phone is used by the owner.
A similar creepy project from this group was the Telenoid R1, which copies the movements of the person who is calling you. Elfoid P1 is still unable to do that, but the researchers in Osaka are quite optimistic that the mini-AI device will soon be able to copy the movements of your callers realtime in the future versions. This, if in case it materializes soon, redefines not just the way we communicate but the definition of virtual conversation itself.
And the fun does not end there. Elfoid P1 project researchers are also looking into the technology behind Geminoid. This Geminoid technology is the one responsible for imitating facial expressions. I find it already hard to imagine my android mobile phone cross its legs and pace as I try to listen to it, and yet they are now also working on getting the facial expressions to complete the caller identity package. The idea is that Elfoid will also serve as the mobile version of the Geminoid version.
The brainchild for the Elfoid P1 project is Hiroshi Ishiguro. NTT Docomo and Qualcomm collaborated with him in Osaka’s Intelligent Robotics department. This freshly-developed androgynous figure redefines mobile conversations and gives all of us a glimpse of what we can expect in the future mobile phones.
I just hope that the next versions they will be unveiling do not look like a high-tech voodoo doll so that I will not be haunted by my callers with their ghostly replicas. :-)