Miniature Robotic Avatar Is The Newest Japanese Robot Invention
May 30, 2012

Miniature Robotic Avatar Is The Newest Japanese Robotic Invention

Lee Rannals for

Japanese researchers have taken another step into the dimension of weird for robotics: a wearable miniature humanoid virtual presence.

The robot, called MH-2, allows friends or family to virtually interact through the virtual presence device so you do not feel alone.

The MH-2 acts as an avatar, or a remote person, to communicate with people through the wearable robot.

The MH-2 is able to mimic human actions as accurately and realistically as possible as it sits on top of the user's shoulder.

The person operating the robot gets a 360-degree immersive 3D view, and can stand in front of a motion capture device, such as a Microsoft Kinect, so that the robot is able to mimic the user from a distance.

The ultimate goal, according to the researchers at Yamagata University in Japan, is for the device to make the user feel as if their friend or family member is sitting on their shoulder sharing the experience with them.  The robot will act like an avatar on the person's shoulder, duplicating the speech and gestures of the friend on the other end of the motion sensing device.

“Meanwhile, the robot on your shoulder acts like an avatar, duplicating the speech and gestures of your friend right there for you to interact with directly,” IEEE wrote in its Automation blog.

The robot is able to step into another realm of weirdness by imitating realistic breathing in order to fully captivate a person's presence.

Currently, the MH-2 requires a 22-pound backpack full of servos, but once technology starts catching up, it will be less cumbersome to carry around, and more realistic to implement into the real world.

"Until that happens, you'll just have to accept the fact that using the MH-2 could possibly make you look like a little bit of a robot geek. Possibly," Evan Ackerman of IEEE wrote.