Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Yotaro-The Robotic Baby Simulator For Expectant Parents?

If you are an expectant parent, Yotaro might just be the baby you should meet before your very own bundle of joy arrive. Yotaro giggles and will wriggle his feet when you shake its rattle, but if you tickle him too much Yotaro will cry and get really cranky. Meet Yotaro, an interactive baby-bot which is programmed to be as skittish as a real baby. It is created in the Uchiyama Lab at Japan's University of Tsubaka and Yotaro is actually meant to be baby simulator for would be parents and older siblings. Sounds like a good "hands on" practice? :)

A good practice for brother-to-be. :)

Yotaro has a chubby face with a pair of rather unearthly looking luminous blue eyes. It is hoped that Yotaro can teach the Japanese the pleasures of parenting as Japan is facing demographic crisis. Hiroki Kunimura of Tsukuba University's robotics and behavioral sciences lab said that Yotaro is a special robot which we can experience physical contact just like with a real baby and reproduce the same feelings towards him. Hmm...is it possible? :/

Look at those eyes and his HUGE face. :p

Yotaro's cute face is made of translucent silicon with a rosy hue and it is backlited by a projector connected to a computer to simulate crying, sneezing, sleeping and smiling while a speaker is fitted to enable Yotaro to giggle. Do you know that Yotaro can also changes its facial expressions and moves it arms and legs when we touch different parts of his face and body. All the physical contacts can be detected by sensors which will then trigger different reaction for Yotaro. Awww....I so wanna touch Yotaro right now. :)

Yotaro is crying!

Yotaro can also simulates a runny nose with the help of a water pump that releases body-temperature droplets of water. And yes, Yotaro can also cry you a river if you make him to. As cool as it may sound, Yotaro is just a concept for now, it is not a standalone robot yet. Hence an extensive set of devices must be attached for him to perform all his baby-like antics, expressions and reactions.

Yikes! Those are Yotaro's "hands"?

Why Yotaro is not a STANDALONE robot yet? The computer that controls Yotaro's changing facial expressions is actually external, whilst the water that serves as the Yotaro's tears is stored in a separate tank, and the sensors direct Yotaro's emotional responses (tickling Yotaro's belly, for example, results in it wiggling its motorized legs under the blanket). Then there is also a projector under the bed that projects the appropriate countenance upward onto Yotaro's 2D face, while a speaker offers up the right baby sounds.

Ouh...so this is what Yotaro is made of aye.

So is Yotaro cute? If you plan to conceive a baby, perhaps this can give you a rough idea what you can expect from your future little angel. Then again it is still a toy right? Get Yotaro if you wanna know the joy (and pain) that a baby can give you. :p

Watch how baby Yotaro responses. :)

~First Commenter~