Toshiba’s New Signing Robot for the Elderly
Toshiba introduced its very own take on the human-looking droid at Japan’s CEATAC electronics trade show this week. The communication android has been built to communicate in Japanese sign language, requiring fluid and precise movement of its arms and hands.
The android, which has blinking eyes and a fixed smile can only mimic simple movements, such as exchanging greetings and signing in Japanese. Toshiba also demonstrated its life-like communication android who they call Ms. Aiko Chihira. The company soon hopes to integrate its technologies in areas including sensing, speech synthesis, speech recognition and robotic control to create a more social robot by 2020. The human like appearance given to the android comes by the work of aLab Inc. and Osaka University, while the driving and sensor technology come courtesy of Shibaura Institute of Technology.
The goal is to design a companion for the elderly and people with dementia, to offer telecounseling in natural speech, communicate through sign language, and allow healthcare to keep an eye on elderly people. Though the android is still in its early stage of development, Toshiba is aiming to have the android capable of acting as a receptionist or exhibition guide next year, but it’s probably going to need to learn to talk first. Hopefully in the coming years the improvements to Ms. Aiko Chihira will help make it a little more personable and a little less creepy.