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Singing robot finds its voice at Tokyo's Robotech

posted 17 Jul 2011, 08:29 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 17 Jul 2011, 08:53 ]

A robotic mouth may not seem like a must-have accessory for your robotic workforce but Japanese researchers say that future human-robot communications may well depend on such devices. The mouth was just one of many robotic innovations on display at this year's Robotech expo in Tokyo. Rob Muir has more.





SAWADA LABORATORY - 
  It may be disturbing to look at but when Kagawa University's singing robot belts out a tune, it's difficult to ignore.

According to its inventor, Hideyuki Sawada, robots will one day be required to communicate directly with humans in a way humans find authentic. He says a robotic voice-box like his, may provide the answer.


KAGAWA UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR HIDEYUKI SAWADA SAYING:

"This can be part of a robot and so up until now there have been alot of humanoid robots that have walked around or made gestures, but the voice was always done electronically with speakers. This however uses air to create sounds, it's possible to create a robot that speaks using the exact same method that human beings do."

Using an air pump instead of lungs, the machine controls a series of automated levers connected to the silicone mouth to form the individual sounds.

Sawada says his device could also help the hearing-impaired.


KAGAWA UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR HIDEYUKI SAWADA SAYING:

"For instance, someone who is unable to hear and therefore doesn't have a clear voice, they could look at the movement of this robot and see where they should correct. So this robot can be used as a teaching tool for those who face such disabilities."

Sawada admits that's some way off...but he's says his device is slowly finding its voice.

Rob Muir, Reuters.

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