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WizKid Robot Debuts At New York Museum

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the will-he-know-when-to-leave-you-alone dept.

Robotics 58

ScienceDaily is reporting that a new exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York is part computer, part robot, and part child. Part of the "Design and the Elastic Mind" exhibit "WizKid" is able to focus on human faces and follows your movement allowing you to interact with objects on its display simply by waving your arms. "Wizkid looks like a computer with a neck. But there the similarities with the familiar personal computer end. Wizkid isn't static. The screen on the mobile neck moves about like a head, and it's trained to hone in on human faces. Once it sees you, Wizkid focuses on you and follows your movement. Unlike a computer, which requires you to stop what you're doing and adapt your behavior and social interactions in order to use it, Wizkid blends into human space. There's no mouse and no keyboard. You don't touch anything. There's no language getting in the way. On Wizkid's screen you see yourself surrounded by a "halo" of interactive elements that you can simply select by waving your hands. If you move away or to one side, Wizkid adapts itself to you, not the other way around. If you're with a friend, Wizkid finds and tracks both of you and tries to figure out your relationship, expressing surprise, confusion or enjoyment when it gets your response."

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I can see these selling well (2, Insightful)

The Ancients (626689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494688)

...in Japan. The country where you can hire 'family' to visit yours.

Re:I can see these selling well (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494780)

I don't really get this obsession with robotics and non-technical interfaces.. it's horrifyingly inefficient to be following people's faces around while trying to process something else, and waving your arms around doesn't really seem like a very effective input mechanism.

Re:I can see these selling well (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495010)

Efficiency isn't the point here, though.

The point appears to be to make modern art, not a usable interface.

Re:I can see these selling well (1)

A.Chwunbee (838021) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495038)

waving your arms around doesn't really seem like a very effective input mechanism.
Sahb, are you not having ever mett Italian's and France persons?

Re:I can see these selling well (1)

mrxak (727974) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495766)

Waving your arms around worked pretty well for the EyeToy [eyetoy.com] .

Re:I can see these selling well (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22496436)

My favourite moment with an eye toy was at a friend's house, when I jumped and the back of all my fingers scraped the lovely razor sharp swirly plaster patterns in the ceiling. Stupid fireworks.

Creepy (3, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494714)

Isn't there some principle in AI research that the more lifelike a thing is after a certain point, it no longer seems helpful and instead becomes disconcerting to the user? On the other hand, this isn't quite at the level of creepiness explored in Spielberg's film (sparked by Kubrick) Artificial Intelligence [amazon.com] where the robot really does look and act like a real child.

Re:Creepy (4, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494896)

Everyone's thinking it: or Terminator. AI research is very interesting, and simulated neural networks blow me away with their complexity, but just WHY apply it to robots? If you end up creating anything useful, you'll be playing very close to some very deeply-ingrained human fears.. and if you think Slashdot is progressive/liberal enough to be immune from such fears, have you ever struggled against a disconcertingly powerful optical drive servo trying to pull a disk tray open? Yeah. Now you remember. :)

Re:Creepy (2, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22496456)

have you ever struggled against a disconcertingly powerful optical drive servo trying to pull a disk tray open?
Uh.. not really.. have you ever tried lifting weights? ;)

Re:Creepy (1)

Cosmic AC (1094985) | more than 6 years ago | (#22499794)

I thought he was referring to this [xkcd.com] .

Re:Creepy (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22500298)

Sometimes, you can make your own humour - no need to just refer to other people's. Maybe he was referring to XKCD, maybe he actually thought up the joke by himself. Even if he was referring to XKCD, it doesn't mean that's automatically the end of the thread and that nobody else is allowed to joke.. *shrug*

Re:Creepy (4, Informative)

Fex303 (557896) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495134)

Isn't there some principle in AI research that the more lifelike a thing is after a certain point, it no longer seems helpful and instead becomes disconcerting to the user?
The term you're looking for here is the Uncanny Valley [wikipedia.org] . I don't really know if would it would apply to this device though, since it's not designed to look even remotely humanoid.

Re:Creepy (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22496498)

From that Wikipedia article:

David Hanson, a roboticist who developed a realistic robotic copy of his girlfriend's head
You've got to laugh :D I can pretty much only think of one use for such a creation! Well, maybe 2.

Re:Creepy (1)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 6 years ago | (#22496760)

You're not very imaginative are you? I can think of THOUSANDS of things to do to a fake GFs head.

Re:Creepy (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22500282)

It's called... a joke?

Re:Creepy (1)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495156)

Google 'Uncanny Valley' for your theory. I would be surprised if this incarnation actually triggered the response widely, though.

Re:Creepy (1)

zeroharmada (1004484) | more than 6 years ago | (#22496680)

you are referring to the uncanny valley... the wikipedia article has some interesting references to the phenomenon.

Re:Creepy (1)

atamagabakkaomae (1241604) | more than 6 years ago | (#22502406)

Being a scientist more or less being involved in similar research ( http://www.takanishi.mech.waseda.ac.jp/ [waseda.ac.jp] ), I can only say that I would be really happy to create something that was even a little bit as creepy an AI as the one we have in the usual movies (Terminator etc.). Reality is that things like the 'Wizkid' or similar devices might be ok at conveying some crude intelligence through a smart choice of interactive features. However, in fact they are miles away from any kind of 'artificial intelligence' that might even remotely come close to outclassing a human (except in 'calculator' style intelligence of course).

The waving hand UI, ps2? (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494740)

The eye toy on the playstation had this type of UI already and it sucked as a menu interface, great for actually playing the games though.

Re:The waving hand UI, ps2? (2, Funny)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494948)

Waving your arms around? The Wii has that kind of UI.. great as a menu interface, sucked for actually playing the games though.

Short Circuit (1)

milsoRgen (1016505) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494748)

Looks like someone took the robot from Short Circuit and gave it to Apple designers.

Seriously though, I seem to recall reading of various pursuits that do the exact same thing, albeit the use of a neck might be somewhat unique. I can recall reading of similar robots, with similar (if not loftier) design goals in publications like SciAm and CPU. This one seems like a glorified EyeToy, as in they seem to be interested in making this a CE device as opposed to perfecting or learning about human machine interaction.

yes, but does it run linux?... (1)

doyoulikegoatseeee (930088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494770)

...and could you imagine a beowulf cluster of these things cooking up huge batches of hot grits?

URGENT PLZ 2 B HLPING (0, Offtopic)

Mipoti Gusundar (1028156) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494798)

I am wishing to not be visting my mother and mother-in-the-lawying. What bitch she is being! Also, she is not liking the frozded pease. Pls to be sending codes. Is URGENT

... uh, not so much (2, Insightful)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494804)

Once it sees you, Wizkid focuses on you and follows your movement. Unlike a computer, which requires you to stop what you're doing and adapt your behavior and social interactions in order to use it, Wizkid blends into human space.

So it REALLY is like having a kid

Oblig. (1)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494840)

SkyNet!

Good Grief... (1, Redundant)

glavenoid (636808) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494858)

I, for one, *dont* welcome our computerized, robot-children overlords. This scares the ever-loving crap outta me :-(

Re:Good Grief... (1)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495012)

Look on the bright side: every time you have to change their diaper, you get to salvage ICs!

ooh! Look! Johnny 2.5 pooped another 555!

just a guess.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22494906)

I didn't RTFA or the summary (I did look at the picture), but I guarantee this will be forgotten after a month, only to reappear in some article 50 years from now titled "Wacky Inventions of the Early 21st Century"

"part child" (1)

rumli (1066212) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494996)

Okay, this looked vastly different from the Frankenstein creation I was eagerly expecting.

HOME in, idiots (1)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495000)

Also, what the hell does "part computer, part robot, part child" even mean?

Is there part of a child in there? No, there is not.

In fact, all that's in there is a whole computer that mimics some of a child's behavior.

And what's all this bullshit about it not being a computer because it doesn't behave like a conventional desktop PC?

Is Science Daily always this fucktarded?

Re:HOME in, idiots (1)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495100)

Is Science Daily always this fucktarded?
Don't blame ScienceDaily. They are so damn desperate for content that most of their "stories" are nothing more than press releases - raw or sexed up - and adverstories. I blame the abysmal state of science journalism. Sigh.

Child Not Included (5, Funny)

StaticEngine (135635) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495106)

You have to supply your own child parts. Luckily, children are in vast abundance and are easily obtainable, often with little more than some inexpensive candy and a van.

Yes it is part kid (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495284)

It hangs around trying to get your attention and annoys you until you respond. If it could spill juice and barf then it would be closer.

Remember this is junk science reporting from Science Daily so don't take it too seriously. These are the same folk that tried to say that the "walks on water" robot works the same wy as a water strider - which it does not.

Re:Yes it is part kid (1)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#22503216)

It hangs around trying to get your attention and annoys you until you respond.

So it won't be any different from going to the park to have lunch, only to find yourself surrounded by mine artists.

part computer, part robot, part child (2, Funny)

pajeromanco (575906) | more than 6 years ago | (#22496012)

Also, what the hell does "part computer, part robot, part child" even mean?
Manbearpig!

Re:HOME in, idiots (2, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 6 years ago | (#22497366)

Is there part of a child in there?

Dr. Byron Orpheus: [after examining Dr. Venture's latest invention] What the hell is this thing made out of?
Dr. Venture: [suspiciously] Nothing.
Dr. Byron Orpheus: Come on...
Dr. Venture: All right, fine, I might have used a few unorthodox parts.
Dr. Byron Orpheus: Just tell me one.
Dr. Venture: [mumbling] An... orphan.
Dr. Byron Orpheus: A what?
Dr. Byron Orpheus: [clearing his throat] An orphan?
Dr. Venture: Did you say... an ORPHAN?
Dr. Venture: [weakly] Yeah, a little orphan boy.
Dr. Byron Orpheus: It's powered by a forsaken child?
Dr. Venture: [defensive] Might be, kind of - I mean I didn't use the whole thing!

Nontraditional UI (4, Insightful)

bkaul (1235970) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495014)

From an AI research perspective, there are of course some interesting aspects. However, from a perspective of actual utility, I'm skeptical.

When it comes to actually using a computer for office productivity or other "useful" applications, traditional interfaces (keyboard/mouse) are much more efficient and less intrusive. I suppose for home multimedia applications, Microsoft's smart table idea has some merit, but who really wants a computer/robot following them around and pestering them? I don't get the appeal. I don't want my computer to use me or intrude into human interactions as if it were a guest. I want to use it as a tool.

Re:Nontraditional UI (1)

iwein (561027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22507672)

Well I'd love to have one for my 2 year old. I'm desperately trying to teach him to click on the youtube movies of steam trains at 7am, but he's just too stupid to figure out how a mouse works. I have to get out of bed every 10 minutes. Of course just making a very long compilation of train movies would work... maybe I could even loop it, but I'm sure this device would be equally equal to the task.

Whiz Kid? (1)

rubah (1197475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495044)

I'm pretty sure I had one of these over fifteen years ago!

Re:Whiz Kid? (1)

milsoRgen (1016505) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495140)

Shit I had one 23 years ago, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.O.B [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Whiz Kid? (1)

rubah (1197475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495256)

Well, I didn't have myself 23 years ago, so I could only guess. Like most of my toys, it was probably inherited from my brother and sister, children of the 80s to be sure.

Re:Whiz Kid? (1)

antime (739998) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495294)

Wizkid [gamespy.com] was in fact released just over fifteen years ago.

HOME in on... (1)

Kapiti Kid (1003167) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495236)

like a honing pigeon.
(I can understand that some people don't listen to what they're saying, but it IS possible to check for stupidities before putting a web page up.)

Not really that hard to make... (1)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495460)

I got trashed with the missus on my birthday, and next thing you know, 9 months later we've got a WhizzKid of our own.

(True story.)

Slashdot Public Education Announcement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22495836)

I got trashed with the missus on my birthday, and next thing you know, 9 months later we've got a WhizzKid of our own.

Umm... just ya know... that stuff that came out of your ... umm... thingy... 9 months ago wasn't actually "wiz", it was ... well.. another word that rhymes with it. ;-)

Action Video (3, Informative)

ikarous (1230832) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495502)

For those interested, YouTube has a video of WizKid's home media user interface in action. You can also see a video of the "emotional" expression movements.

Here. [youtube.com]

Re:Action Video (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22496484)

Warning! GOATSE link redirect fake link posted above. IKAROUS is a goatse poster lover

"hone" in on human faces? (1)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495942)

Ouch!

(I think they meant "home" ... not even figurative senses of "hone" fit in this particular context.)

Now I'm a robot? (1)

rickthewizkid (536429) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495986)

Sounds like a bad Futurama episode :)

What?! (1)

JavaBasedOS (1217930) | more than 6 years ago | (#22496154)

A post about robots on /. and no "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" tag?!

Perhaps they can spread a bit of the intelligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22496426)

and then the lead text won't use "it's" for the posessive as it means "it is". Maybe it can also avoid the egregious "hone in" given that "hone" is a transitive verb and I cannot see that "in" is a thing that needs sharpening.

Kismet? (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 6 years ago | (#22496460)

Seems like this is just similar to Kismet & "Leonardo the Lovable", which have appeared on "Scientific American Frontiers", and various other TV shows..

meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22497698)

wake me up when a lifelike animated paper clip serves to answer my queries regarding word processing in real time

Maybe not so good ALL the time? (1)

socz (1057222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22497898)

I haven't seen any pictures, but the short circuit robot- johnny 5 alive - paints a hideous picture! I mean, just think about it! You're at home with your wife/"gf" and you get romantic. Do you really want this thing watching you? Wouldn't that freak you out if it has a "quizzical" or "curious/interested" face/expression?

What if it can eventually follow you around? When you come out of the bathroom after eating chili it's like, "what happened in there?" You know what i mean? I dunno if i'd want one of those bastards around me! Whatever happened to that japanese sony dog that was "like a real dog?" Can't i just get one of those instead, at least i can play with it and not get freaked out!

But does it run on... (1)

christian.einfeldt (874074) | more than 6 years ago | (#22498480)

...well, I had to ask, because my reading and search of the article doesn't find a mention Linux, and I can't imagine something innovative like this running on Windows, especially when Microsoft is still struggling to nail down file copying Vista. So, just curious, you know.

It hunts you (1)

GottliebPins (1113707) | more than 6 years ago | (#22500522)

It is drawn to human faces and if you move away it hunts you down and destroys you. Welcome the T1!
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