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Japanese Build Pocket Robot-Cellphone Hybrid

Unknown Lamer posted more than 3 years ago | from the making-calls-creepier dept.

Robotics 81

An anonymous reader writes "Japanese researchers unveiled yesterday a pocket-size telepresence robot called Elfoid. The device, which looks like a little ghost, transmits voice and motion over a 3G network to convey a person's 'presence' to a remote location. It's a creation of Hiroshi Ishiguro, a professor at Osaka University who is known for his lifelike teleoperated androids. The Elfoid has a limited range of motion, but its creators are planning to equip it with mini-actuators so it can imitate the movements of the person on the other end of the line. With vaguely formed features, the device is designed to be a surrogate of people of any age or gender."

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81 comments

Too Creepy (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35381178)

It's too creepy. Destroy this abomination.

Re:Too Creepy (3, Insightful)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381352)

But wouldn't you like to be able to hear your victim scream as you stick pins in this?

Re:Too Creepy (3, Insightful)

trollertron3000 (1940942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381446)

Agreed. Burn it. Burn it with fire.

FREAKS!

Re:Too Creepy (1)

ken138888 (2006442) | more than 3 years ago | (#35387560)

Agreed. Burn it. Burn it with fire.

FREAKS!

ya

Re:Too Creepy (2)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382092)

Yeah....and just wait till one of these things pulls a "Chucky" and starts killing people.....

Re:Too Creepy (1)

Bahamut_Omega (811064) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382774)

Only one series I've seen comes to mind right now. Keitai Sousakan 7. I'm just wondering if the cellphones will be bitching at you not to throw them as well.

Re:Too Creepy (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382960)

Just when you think Japan can't get any weirder, their researchers pull off another breakthrough!

Re:Too Creepy (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 3 years ago | (#35383716)

This one might be just perfect for Sheldon Cooper, don't you think?

It's That Bad? (1)

MokuMokuRyoushi (1701196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35384448)

I don't get it. The *entire* page is filled with people saying how creepy these things are, just like on the CHEETAH page. What's the deal? I'm not Japanese, I'm Texan, but I don't see the creepiness of it. What is it about robots that creeps people out here?

Re:Too Creepy (1)

Eclipse-now (987359) | more than 3 years ago | (#35394138)

I agree! It really is creepy — and limited. It looks like the toys I had as a kid, wire-framed bendy action figures that were meant to be the Greys from "Close encounters". My mum hated them and thought they looked like mutated embryo's.

Not only that, they're too limited. I hate them. They should be focussing on the iPad & tablet market and creating super-cool avatars that beat the pants off anything Xbox has created. Isn't that far more William Gibson than having an ACTION FIGURE for crying out loud? Why bring it down to the level of the meat — especially if we can't customise it with the click of a button? Ooooh, shiny idea ... dress up accessories made in China! Shsssshhhhhhh, nothing to see here, move along! Move along! (Jumps on phone to make a squillion in a new dress-up-dolls market).

riiight... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35381196)

might be my next cellphone? no thanks, I may enjoy the song "voodoo people" by prodigy, but that doesn't mean i want a voodoo doll for a cellphone

Re:riiight... (2)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381478)

I'm gonna hold out for the D.P. model. Maybe that one will have real hands and true "reach around" capability.

Re:riiight... (1)

Phoghat (1288088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35387142)

I'll wait until they make on like this [ieee.org] so I can call 900 numbers.

Oh no, just no (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35381198)

Kill it, with fire.

Bender & the card (3, Interesting)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381214)

I don't know why, but for some reason, this just makes me think of the robotic greeting card sitting on Bender's shoulder:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Futurama_219_-_Mother's_Day.jpg [wikipedia.org]

Re:Bender & the card (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 3 years ago | (#35384908)

This appears to be essentially a 1:1 idea taken from future cell phones shown in macross: frontier. In there the phones made various noises, wiggled, and their "hands" where actually various phone extensions, like headphones. And they appeared to be operated by being squeezed in various way in addition to holographically projected controls.

Re:Bender & the card (1)

Dabido (802599) | more than 3 years ago | (#35387836)

It reminded me immediately of Chobits http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chobits [wikipedia.org] where the human looking computers do exactly as the TFS describes.

Something odd (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35381228)

What is wrong with these people?

Re:Something odd (3, Funny)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381348)

This post really made me laugh for some reason.

If I had a girlfriend though, I would want her to be Japanese. I would love to come home and see her dressed as a maid or in cat ears... I don't think that part of Japanese weirdness is bad AT ALL...

Re:Something odd (3, Insightful)

MikeDaSpike (1196169) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381638)

If you go over at sankaku complex (NSFW site) they once in a while post survey results (mostly from 2chan) and the majority of it shows that most japanese girls despise otaku (nerds). Also, for some reason japanese culture thinks that moaning as if you're being raped is the standard while having sex. That might be bad or good, depends on your preferences...

Re:Something odd (0)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381950)

Heh, I keep getting told the same thing: I want to move to Japan, and people keep telling me "Japanese girls hate Americans." I don't really care; I want to get away from this city, and from Tokyo, and this ... mess. Find somewhere quiet, rolling hills, have a nice garden with a sakura tree and some flowers planted around... maybe teach English or Go, spend time in an Izakaya and at an Aikido dojo (and possibly Judo; Judo has always interested me, but it's inaccessible here), learn to cook some....

I like Japanese culture. Not bullshit like Tokyo, with millions of flashing lights and funny dressed people and screaming and puchinko machines and whatnot... people are polite, introspective, and proud of their work. Americans aren't proud of their work; they're proud of their paychecks.

In Chess, there is only one metric: did you win? In Go, you have to build your position from the start; you can lose by a half a point, or you can lose by a half a dozen struggles for life as you get smashed into corners and crushed down to insignificance. Your playing can be completely incompetent, or it can be skillful and brilliant-- and you still lose, but the person who beats you is still thoroughly impressed. And here we have only one metric: did it get done? If it's in place, that's good enough; no matter if it's right, if it actually works correctly or just barely works, or if it's at all durable (if something changes, do we tear it out and make a new one, or just modify what we have?). I like people who have a sense of pride in their work, and who seek understanding and improvement at any chance, even if they have to admit fault.

I don't think I'll have a problem with "Japanese people really don't like Americans." It's more a matter of if I like them or not; we can go from there. Of course I have much to learn about their culture, much I can't get out of a book, much regional adjustment even: living on the US East Coast in Baltimore is different than New York or Virginia, and far different than the US Midwest; living in different parts of Japan will of course demand adjustment to different cultures. I'm sure I can learn from those around me.

Re:Something odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35382698)

"Japanese people really don't like Americans." yup and neither do Slashdotters. Idiot

Re:Something odd (1)

MokuMokuRyoushi (1701196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35384298)

Having never been to Japan(though I'd like to pay a long visit!), I'll comment on your distinction between chess and go. My comment is thus; huh? I play both every now and then, and every thrilling aspect of Go you just described is very much present in chess mate. The strategies are just as infinite, the struggles just as plentiful. I'd say one is just as challenging and exciting as the other.

Re:Something odd (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35384590)

I've always found chess egregiously boring. The first time I played was when I was like 5, against my dad. The second time I was 15, against the top player in my chess club, who nearly cried because he lost. I really had no idea what I was doing, it was like here and checkmate. I always considered it a child's game, where the loser is the idiot schoolyard bully who stands up, punches the nerd in the face, and wins [wcbo.org] .

Re:Something odd (1)

MokuMokuRyoushi (1701196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35384704)

Strangely, I'm having doubts about your story. Random moves from a player who doesn't know the game beating a well-practiced chess player. I wasn't there though, so I suppose I can't know whether the player in question was blindfolded and drugged.

Re:Something odd (1)

notsoanonymouscoward (102492) | more than 3 years ago | (#35385606)

Yeah them chess stories sound awfully fishy. Also, as someone who lived in Tokyo for a year, I gotta say there is much variation in the microcosm that is Tokyo. Its not like a vast uniform wasteland of pachinko and soap parlors =)

I've been around Hokkaido, Kyoto, Okinawa, and more. The most "Japanese" experience to my mind at least... was exploring the Izu Hanto, just a day's train ride from the bustle of Tokyo. Your mileage may vary. To bfl, I would suggest that if you do go (and you should!)... go with as few expectations as possible. You'll enjoy it more. Even buying a loaf of bread can be an adventure sometimes.

Re:Something odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35386784)

Heh, as someone living here, I will second that sometimes buying bread is an adventure and say go for it! :)

If you are looking for a job, a good resource is Gaijinpot.com

Re:Something odd (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35405400)

I'm not that skilled in Go either; I mostly reached 10kyu because I can outread everyone below 8kyu and most people below 6kyu. That is to say, I can play 12+ moves in my head and go, "... shit, that doesn't work." A lot of brilliant tesuji and joseki I play are things I've never seen; I discover them myself because they give the best result.

Chess is the same way. I want the knight and the bishop out, keep the queen back (I'm leery of using the queen as a primary attacker; it's too powerful to lose in a trivial scuff, it must be a highly strategic piece, like a bishop and a rook combined, which of course usurps the power of the king as well, which also has the attacking and movement power of the pawn). My first move is typically to move a pawn to free a bishop; once the opponent moves a piece (last time, last year, this was jumping a knight out rather than advancing a pawn), I start considering defense against all his mobile pieces.

I'm nasty. I identified anything troublesome and killed it. Rook/knight looks like an issue, can I get in its way and line it with the bishop? Kill the knight, the rook can't move that way; knight moves to avoid the threat, capture rook. Either way, the other piece just lost its protection. If I move here, how can he stop me? ... by that, ok let's not do that.

In 9th grade there is a large difference between people who have played a lot of chess and recognize positions and strategies on the board and people who have not played a lot of chess but have played the game you're playing halfway through already. The difference is 9th grade chess club kids have seen stuff like this before and remember they can make this attack; I haven't, so I make the attack in my head, and then find the best response, and if it's bad for me I don't do that. These aren't world champion chess grandmasters, they don't go 30 levels in.

Absolutely no strategy involved, just brute force game tree search.

Re:Something odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35384586)

Weeaboo.

Re:Something odd (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35381956)

If your partner is silent while having sex, you're doing it wrong.

Re:Something odd (1)

nevillethedevil (1021497) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382720)

Not if you're into necrophilia

Re:Something odd (1)

tom17 (659054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382898)

This post really made me laugh for some reason

Re:Something odd (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382998)

I don't see any reason to wake her up after the long day she's had.

Re:Something odd (1)

Phoghat (1288088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35387182)

And, just in case you were wondering if you are an otaku here [sankakucomplex.com] are ten really good signs.

Re:Something odd (2)

biek (1946790) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381852)

If I had a girlfriend though, I would want her to be Japanese. I would love to come home and see her dressed as a maid or in cat ears...

This post really made me laugh for some reason

Re:Something odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35382274)

It's not a weirdness, it's a plus!

Re:Something odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35381634)

Dude. These are the people who came up with no-pan kissa [wikipedia.org] , Hello Kitty Wine [ew.com] , and Odori-gui [zimbermen.com] (quote: "Let the fish wiggle inside your mouth a bit before chewing to its death!").

Heck, just have a look at this:
http://www.google.com/search?q=weird+japanese [google.com]

What isn't wrong with these people?

Re:Something odd (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382010)

No-Pan Kissa sounds like something Americans would have done first if it was somehow legal or economically favorable.

Re:Something odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35385222)

But that's kinda the point... Japan is the kind of place where such a thing can be somehow legal and economically favorable.

Re:Something odd (2)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381736)

Too much time talking to Pintsize.

Re:Something odd (1)

Phoghat (1288088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35387148)

Yeah, you know the Japanese are really turning freakazoid.

Re:Something odd (1)

bar-agent (698856) | more than 3 years ago | (#35394186)

"Turning?" Man, they passed freakazoid years ago.

Look at that thing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35381250)

Aaagh! Who wants to be talking to your dad with his voice coming out of that!

argh! (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381274)

argh argh! argh!. +1 insightful.

Re:argh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35381480)

That's right. BIG PENIS. I agree.

oh yeah (1)

romco (61131) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381314)

sex party!

Re:oh yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35381512)

Choco Party! GOOD GOOD! [youtube.com]

What are you looking at?

Chobits (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35381326)

This is from Japan, the same people that created the Chobits anime and manga series. I truly wonder if they are related. https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Chobits [wikimedia.org]

So it's... (3, Funny)

UberWhack (319225) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381362)

...just another android phone?

Re:So it's... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35381888)

ahaha, very nice.

Obligatory marketing slogan (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381370)

"Your plastic pal who's fun to be with"

And if it's tele-operated, the applications of this tech for adult entertainment are obvious.

Re:Obligatory marketing slogan (1)

tom17 (659054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382936)

Oh go stick your head in a pig!

Re:Obligatory marketing slogan (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#35383018)

"Excuse me, but I seem to be hearing a ring tone coming from your crotch"

Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35381384)

Soon there will be Elfoid porn coming out of Japan!

Eraserhead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35381392)

Reminds me of the baby in David Lynch's cinematic nightmare Eraserhead. Nightmare-ish stuff.

Harold and Kumar go to white castle!? (1)

LiENUS (207736) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381420)

Why is Harold in the photo at the top of the article?

/. Daily News (1)

Even on Slashdot FOE (1870208) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381424)

Today's top story is from the Uncanny Valley. Apparently they're letting unspeakable things tour our fair country.

Let me be the first to say, "OH GOD PLEASE GET IT AWAY FROM ME, I'LL DO ANYTHING!!!1!"

Glowing Chest (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381540)

Please tell me the blue glowing chest does not turn red when it is "downloading" ?

Dialing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35381662)

How does one dial a phone that looks like this?
For that matter how does one do ANYTHING on a phone that looks like this, aside from cowering under a desk?

It would make a lot more sense to just use render a character on a phone screen that uses camera input for this type of thing. Or even simply use video calls, which seem to be coming to light slowly these days.

Thanks Japan (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381694)

Only you can take delusional schizophrenia and make it real.

This looks like crazy people talking to dolls.

Re:Thanks Japan (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382024)

No it doesn't; when crazy people talk to dolls, the dolls don't talk back.

Re:Thanks Japan (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382404)

Sure they do, but only the schizo can hear it.

Re:Thanks Japan (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#35383038)

"What's that you say, little ghost friend? Kill all humans?"

little ghost (1)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381860)

Little ghost, little ghost
One I'm scared of the most
Can you scare me up a little bit of love?

Not bad at all. Great start. (2)

Millennium (2451) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382020)

Call me when they finish Sumomo.

Re:Not bad at all. Great start. (2)

RemyBR (1158435) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382412)

Seconded, although I'd rather have Kotoko.

Imagine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35382026)

Getting a human size doll (anatomically correct) that conveys the motions of the caller... now imagine that caller is your girlfriend and she has one too.
Billion dollar idea... doesn't even have to be your girlfriend but any lady on a premium line. No more late club nights.

Hiiiiiideeeee Hooooo! (1)

TrebleJunkie (208060) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382084)

Paint it brown, and it's Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo.

Is that a robot in your pocket or... (1)

space_jake (687452) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382384)

Oh it is.

Am I the only one who misread the headline? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35382622)

I thought it said "Japanese Build Pocket Rocket-Cellphone Hybrid"

Now that's a phone with a good vibrate function.

Well, eventually we'd hope to get... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382756)

here. [minitokyo.net]

Yikes (1)

ddd0004 (1984672) | more than 3 years ago | (#35383130)

How long until I see this in some sort of ultra-disturbing pron from Japan?

When you phoned and called me a jerk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35383414)

... you wouldn't believe what this thing started doing in my pocket.

Call me. Again.

Wrong body parts (1)

tgrigsby (164308) | more than 3 years ago | (#35383446)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this thing is going to speak to you through its ears and listen to you through its feet?

Hm.

No, that's not weird at all....

The ultimate baby monitor? (1)

wrencherd (865833) | more than 3 years ago | (#35383674)

It looks kind of interesting to me. I think there's a potential there; a terrific baby monitor maybe?

It certainly beats a facebook page like a drum, esp. for showing "horny" status.

Puppet, not robot, damn it! (1)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35383992)

A robot is autonomous; it does not simply follow someone else's movements.

E.g. Wikipedia:

A robot is a virtual or mechanical artificial agent. In practice, it is usually an electro-mechanical machine which is guided by computer or electronic programming, and is thus able to do tasks on its own. Another common characteristic is that by its appearance or movements, a robot often conveys a sense that it has intent or agency of its own.

WTF is a "robotic ghost"? (1)

t0p (1154575) | more than 3 years ago | (#35384594)

What's that "looks like a little ghost" mean? Does it wear a white sheet with eye-holes? Or is it a horrific creature a la Hellraiser?

Re:WTF is a "robotic ghost"? (1)

bar-agent (698856) | more than 3 years ago | (#35394206)

Well, it is a horrific creatureâ¦but not a la Hellraiser.

Elfoid vs. CHEETAH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35385588)

In the related news [slashdot.org] , the DARPA develops a quadruped robot cellphone hybrid to be used as a surrogate for the feline animals in homes and zoos alike. The first tests indicate massive Elfoid casualties.

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