Geminoid, Skin On and Skin Off Geminoid
The latest Geminoid robot is one of the most realistic, and thus creepiest, android we've ever seen. The skin, hair, goatee (!), and facial expressions are real enough to fool you for a few seconds while it sinks in that something very, very weird is going on.
This specific model is called the Geminoid DK, and it comes from the same studio that gave us the robotic actress, Geminoid F. The DK is the first Geminoid model that's based on a non-Japanese person (in this case, Associate Professor Henrik Scharfe of Denmark's Aalborg University) and also the first bearded model (if you consider a goatee a beard, which in my full-bearded opinion is debatable).
Like its Geminoid siblings, the DK is controlled remotely with a motion-capture system in which the Geminoid mimics the movements of the person being captured. Future uses are kind of secondary to the basic goal of making the most human-like robot possible, but it could be a step forward for human-robot interaction–paired with, say, Watson's brain, the Geminoid series could be used in some pretty interesting ways. That being said, here's a terrifying picture of the Geminoid's hair- and pupil-less visage.
Geminoid DK is the first Geminoid based on a non-Japanese person. It's also the first bearded one.
Okay, I admit it… I found myself wondering whether this was in fact a real robot, or actually a person pretending to be a robot or even a fake robot.
It's not a fake. This is the latest iteration of Geminoid series of ultra-realistic androids, from Kokoro and Hiroshi Ishiguro. Specifically, this is Geminoid DK, which was constructed to look exactly like Associate Professor Henrik Scharfe of Aalborg University in Denmark.
UPDATE: Wow. We've just found a new video that is a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y incredible:
When we wrote Prof. Scharfe inquiring about the android, he confirmed: "No, it is not a hoax," adding that they've been working on the project for about a year now. His Geminoid was built by Kokoro in Tokyo and is now at Japan's Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR) in Nara for setup and testing. "In a couple of weeks I will go back to Japan to participate in the experiments," he says. "After that, the robot is shipped to Denmark to inhabit a newly designed lab."
Geminoid DK does look pretty much exactly like the original template:
The Geminoid is on the right. I think.
If you're wondering why on Earth someone would want an exact robotic double of themselves, besides being TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY AWESOME, the Geminoid is going to be used for researching "emotional affordances" in human-robot interaction, the novel notion of "blended presence," as well as cultural differences (from different continents) in the perception of robots.
These are some of the same issues Hiroshi Ishiguro set out to explore when he created his robot clone, the Geminoid HI-1, and a copy of a twentysomething Japanese model, the Geminoid F [see photos, right].
For his part, Ishiguro, a professor at Osaka University and group leader at ATR, declined to give us more details about his involvement with the Geminoid DK project, saying only that he and Scharfe "are working together."
Like with the other Geminoid robots, all of the movements and expressions of Geminoid DK are remote controlled by an operator with a computer, who uses a motion-capture system that tracks facial expressions and head movements. Turn your head and the Geminoid does the same; move your mouth and the android follows suit.
But it's not hard to imagine full autonomy in the not-to-distant future.
Incidentally, here's what Henrik's wife thinks about his robotic double:
– She prefers body number 1
– She suggests that we should always send body number 2 to conferences and stuff
Prefers body number 1, eh? Does she know that body number 2 is upgradeable?
Here's another video and more freaky pics of Geminoid DK in the making to fuel your nightmares, enjoy:
Images and videos: Geminoid DK