This Sassy Little Robot Lets Your Friends Follow You Around With Telepresence

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Although one could argue that Facetime and Skype are already nearly perfect telepresence systems, there’s definitely some value in having a jolly little robot sit on your shoulder and transmit, in real time, everything you see and hear to a friend far away. Right? Please say I’m right?

This experimental robot is called the Miniature Humanoid 2 or MH2 and was built in Japan by Yuichi Tsumaki, Fumiaki Ono, and Taisuke Tsukuda of Yamagata University in Japan. The robot requires a big honking backpack so it’s a little bit cumbersome but essentially the MH2 can move around on your shoulder as you move around the world, creating a sort of Master/Blaster relationship or, more likely, a Kuato/host human situation.

Here’s a description from the IEEE:

This may seem a little bit weird at first, but here’s the idea: you’ve got a friend or a relative that you want to share an experience with. Like, you’re traveling or something, and you want some company. Instead of having said friend come along with you (we’ll assume that they’re busy as opposed to just antisocial), you can bring along an MH-2 instead. Back home, your friend puts on a 360-degree immersive 3D display and stands in front of some sort of motion capture environment (like a Kinect, for example). Then, they get to see whatever the MH-2 sees. 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.

That’s right: this thing simulates a little friend so you don’t feel so alone. Welcome to the 21st century.

via Giz via Ieee.org