Recently Reuters covered a Hong Kong Electronics Fair where Robot Humanoid “Han” by Hanson Robotics was on display. As I have shared many times before, I truly believe that we are only at the very early stages of what patient simulator technology can eventually be. The need to more realistic present patient facial expressions is a clear opportunity that will become a standard feature in tomorrow’s medical simulation manikin products. Patients relay important information through their facial expressions and learners will benefit from increased technology in this area.
From the Hanson Robotics Website:
“Our robots exhibit the highest quality expressions and interactivity in the world, fusing our advances in walking, talking robots who maintain eye contact, recognize faces and understand speech, hold conversations, and simulate a real person’s personality.
Hanson Robotics develops and manufactures humanlike robots and smart software that bring our robots to life. Hanson robots include the world’s first expressive biped robot, Albert-Hubo, heralded by WIRED as “genius”, and the small Zeno robot, a low-cost child robot who is evolving into a family member. Hanson delivers robots to prestigious laboratories around the world, which include the University of Cambridge, the University of Geneva, UCSD, JPL/Caltech, United Arab Emirates University, the University of Bristol, the University of Pisa, National Taiwan University, and the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), where the robots serve a wide range of science and engineering research, including autism therapy, artificial intelligence and machine perception, neuroscience and cognitive science, mechanical engineering, and artificial muscle actuator research.
This research has resulted in hundreds of peer review publications, and naturally captures abundant press and publicity. The bold appearance of life in Hanson robots springs from the synthesis of biology, neurally-derived cognitive systems, machine perception, artistry of interactive character design, animation, and sculpture, and the expressive quality of Hanson’s patented Frubber(tm), or “flesh rubber”, which is a spongy, structured elastic polymer that expertly mimics the movement of real human musculature and skin using 1/20th the power of other materials. In this activity, Hanson Robotics seeks to understand and model the human being, deliver living robotic characters to the consumer, and accelerate progress towards greater-than-human intelligence in machines. We hope you will join us in this quest to build a better, smarter future.”
From Reuters.com Report:
“So Han’s really exciting because not only can he generate very realistic facial expressions, but he can also interact with the environment around him. So he has cameras on his eyes and on his chest, which allow him to recognize people’s face, not only that, but recognize their gender, their age, whether they are happy or sad, and that makes him very exciting for places like hotels for example, where you need to appreciate the customers in front of you and react accordingly,” Copplestone said.
“I think it’s very magical, because the robot’s facial expressions are very rich. When I greeted him, he responded. When I asked him to smile, he smiled. He can flirt and wink. It’s very well made,” Xiao said.
Copplestone added that some of the robotic technology, such as facial recognition, is available on open source; meaning robot developers around the world can use the same software.
A unique feature of Han is his human-like skin, which is created by a patented material called “Frubber,” short for “Flesh Rubber”, an elastic polymer.
Copplestone said the human-like robot heads could serve a range of functions, especially where face-to-face communications is important.
“There are three markets we are really excited about. One is hospitality, so for example, the receptionist behind desk and hotels. The second one is entertainment, so casinos, theme parks and museums. And the third is health care, and that’s in two ways.
Another area of medical care is for the elderly. We believe a human face on a robot makes it far more approachable, and efficient, and effective in caring for older people.”