Friday, April 22, 2005

Bizarre troll-like robot for "character cultivation"

This robot for indoctrinationg pre-schoolers in China looks to me like some stange hybrid of Micheal Jackson and a troll doll.

Face-making robot debuts in Shenzhen

BEIJING, April 22 -- After two years' work, scientists have developed the first Chinese human-shaped robot able to make facial expressions, it was announced on April 18.
The robot, named "Baizhixing" (meaning "smart star"), debuted in Shenzhen, in the southern province of Guangdong, following an announcement by Harbin Institute of Technology's Robot Engineering Technology Center.

Dr Bao Qingshan, principal of the program, said "Baizhixing" would mainly be used in preschool education.

The 35 centimeter-high robot has been given a friendly, cartoon-style design with a unique nose, wrinkles, big ears and golden hair.


Its mouth moves while speaking, and it makes appropriate facial expressions and head, neck, arm and leg movements.

The invention is aimed at helping rudimentary knowledge development and character cultivation in preschool children, supported by a dedicated website.

"It combines animal imitation technology and modern preschool education theory," said Bao, integrating control systems, complicated mechanical structures, speech synthesis and expandable networking technology.

"All the core technologies have been developed independently, and are equal to the advanced techniques utilized abroad," Bao added. "We have complete intellectual patent rights."

Robots have been used in education before but many are not able to make facial expressions, said Zhang Fenghong, a researcher in education theory, and are less accepted by children.


Xinhua - English


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