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Have you seen the terminator? A human look-alike robot that is programmed to kill but later becomes the savior. It just follows what it is programmed to do and shows no emotional intelligence. But we are moving in a time when robots will feel, and have emotions just like us – humans. They could be playful, reactive, curious and look adorable while they do it.
Guy Hoffman, a co-director of IDC Media Innovation Lab, won IEEE International Robot Design Competition. His idea was to bring soul in the robots. He was motivated from the Pixar animation of two lamps that let audience emotionally connect to it. Currently he has made three such robotic designs; Travis, Shimon and AUR. He brought soul into the robots by embodying high level cognition and intelligence.
Travis is a smart phone speaker dock and a music companion. When you plug your smart phone in it, it just does not amplify the music but also bobs his head like it is enjoying the music with you. It was developed as a research platform to observe the Human–Robot interaction.
Shimon is a musician. It played on a musical platform connecting both with the band members and audience. It learns on its own and improvises the music. It also played with a rap star. When the rapper was too much occupied with his iPhone and not paying attention, Shimon gave him a look of disappointment and he immediately noticed and looked away from his iPhone.
Aur is a robotic desk Lamp. This Lamp follows your movements and provide light where you want it to be and not in a fixed location. For example, if you are working on a desk at one moment and on a side white board the next, the lamp would move its head with you providing light to desk as well as the white board. If you cannot find the required object, the lamp senses your confusion and points towards the object and changes its light to red.
Robots with soul will give a future where a robot could be more of your friend then an enemy. It is an interesting concept that has a potential market. Everyone loves a robot which responds back just like humans do as shown by Guy Hoffman in a survey he conducted.