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Robotics Technology

WizKid Robot Debuts At New York Museum 58

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the will-he-know-when-to-leave-you-alone dept.
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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WizKid Robot Debuts At New York Museum

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  • by The Ancients (626689) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @05:11PM (#22494688) Homepage
    ...in Japan. The country where you can hire 'family' to visit yours.
    • 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.
      • Efficiency isn't the point here, though.

        The point appears to be to make modern art, not a usable interface.
      • by mrxak (727974)
        Waving your arms around worked pretty well for the EyeToy [eyetoy.com].
        • 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 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @05:12PM (#22494714) Homepage
    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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Brian Gordon (987471) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @05:22PM (#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: (Score:3, Funny)

        by somersault (912633)

        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? ;)
        • I thought he was referring to this [xkcd.com].
          • 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 (Score:5, Informative)

      by Fex303 (557896) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @05:38PM (#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.
      • 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.
    • Google 'Uncanny Valley' for your theory. I would be surprised if this incarnation actually triggered the response widely, though.
    • you are referring to the uncanny valley... the wikipedia article has some interesting references to the phenomenon.
    • 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'
  • 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: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Brian Gordon (987471)
      Waving your arms around? The Wii has that kind of UI.. great as a menu interface, sucked for actually playing the games though.
  • 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 interac
  • by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @05:17PM (#22494804) Homepage Journal
    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
  • SkyNet!
  • Good Grief... (Score:1, Redundant)

    by glavenoid (636808)
    I, for one, *dont* welcome our computerized, robot-children overlords. This scares the ever-loving crap outta me :-(
    • 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!
  • Okay, this looked vastly different from the Frankenstein creation I was eagerly expecting.
  • 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?
    • 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.
    • by StaticEngine (135635) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @05:36PM (#22495106) Homepage
      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.
    • 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.

      • by mikael (484)
        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.
    • Also, what the hell does "part computer, part robot, part child" even mean?
      Manbearpig!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Culture20 (968837)

      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:

  • Nontraditional UI (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bkaul (1235970) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @05:30PM (#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.

    • by iwein (561027)
      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.
  • I'm pretty sure I had one of these over fifteen years ago!
  • 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.)
  • 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.)

  • Action Video (Score:3, Informative)

    by ikarous (1230832) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @06:04PM (#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]

  • Ouch!

    (I think they meant "home" ... not even figurative senses of "hone" fit in this particular context.)
  • Sounds like a bad Futurama episode :)
  • A post about robots on /. and no "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" tag?!
  • Seems like this is just similar to Kismet & "Leonardo the Lovable", which have appeared on "Scientific American Frontiers", and various other TV shows..
  • ...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 is drawn to human faces and if you move away it hunts you down and destroys you. Welcome the T1!

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