From NEON to MarsCat and Lovot, world sees AI’s becoming friends and not just robotic assistants
A computationally created virtual being, NEON looks and behaves just like a real human and is capable of showing emotions and intelligence.Updated: Jan 09, 2020 12:54 IST
Remember Steven Spielberg’s 2001 sci-fi drama A.I. Artificial Intelligence, where David - a prototype Mecha child capable of experiencing love - is given to Henry Swinton and his wife Monica, whose son Martin contracted a rare disease? Turns out, 19 years after the film released, the concept of an emphatic ‘artificial human’ has become a reality with Samsung-backed Star Labs unveiling Neon at CES 2020.
A computationally created virtual being, NEON looks and behaves just like a real human and is capable of showing emotions and intelligence, the company says, adding that it is not an AI assistant, but “a friend,” who can connect and learn more about humans, gain new skills, and eventually evolve.
While NEON may be a step forward in creating an AI based ‘friend’, Star Labs is not the only tech company advancing in that direction. In a world dictated by lack of time and companionship, CES has unfailingly seen companies showcasing robots or artificial intelligence-based beings which consistently try to blur the line between humans and humanoids by creating androids and machines to offer companionship.
CES 2020 saw the launch of a robotic cat named MarsCat, which has been created by Elephant Robotics. The artificial companion, being hailed as the world’s first bionic pet cat, can walk., stretch, play with toys and recognises human faces and commands.
Not just MarsCat, CES 2020 also saw the unveiling of another ‘friendly’ robot, Ballie, by Samsung. Ballie is a small, rolling robot which understands a humans needs and reacts to them to actively help them around the house.
Pollen Robotics also introduced its open source interactive robot Reachy, which specialises in interacting with people and can convey multiple emotions to his audience. This year another companion robot was unveiled called Qoobo. The ‘tailed cushion that heals your heart,’ it is a therapeutic robot in the form of a cushion with a tail.
This is not the first time that CES has seen the unveiling of robotic companions. Back in 2018, Japanese electronics company, Sony, had unveiled a revamped version of Aibo, a robotic dog that can dance, find a bone and recognise people in a family, virtually blurring the line between having a real dog as a companion or a robotic one.
The same year also saw Blue Frog Robotics introducing a rolling companion robot called Buddy, which is programmed to assist, entertain, educate, and according to its makers, “make everybody smile.”
Back in 2019, CES saw the introduction of another adorable robotic companion called the Lovot. Complete with big animated eyes, it was built by Kaname Hayashi, who created the companion robot to help cure loneliness. The Emotional Robotics technology is created to stir people’s feelings through the way it looks, feels and behaves.
A YouGov survey conducted in 2019 found that 30 percent of millennials were the most likely to say they felt lonely. This was in sharp contrast to 20 percent of Gen-X respondents who said they felt lonely often or always, and only 15 percent of Baby Boomers had similar answers. With loneliness becoming a defining factor among the youth today, the move towards artificial intelligence as becoming companions is perhaps becoming more of a necessity than a luxury.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text)