This weird robotic head will be the friendly face of artificial intelligence

This weird robotic head will be the friendly face of artificial intelligence

Furhat's robotic head promises to give people a more friendly AI experience
By Ian Morris 12:28, 7 NOV 2018

Do you ever wish that Amazon's Alexa or Google Assistant were a bit more present for your chats? The answer might be this robotic head from tech company Furhat Robotics.
As well as offering you a more human way to talk to a computer the Furhat robot also has the advantages of being able to emote, something Alexa and Assistant struggle with.
Designed by a Swedish firm, Furhat isn't entirely designed to replace consumer products like Alexa and Assistant. The robots are currently being used by larger companies who need to give some life to artificial intelligence.
Cost is likely to be an issue here - Furhat doesn't publish a price list, because each robot is different. But it's incredibly likely that this sort of device might one day be available for in-home use.
The robot uses a small projector, which is mounted inside the head, to project a real time video onto the face. All of this should make for a much more human-like experience when you're chatting with artificial intelligence.
In another video posted to YouTube the company demonstrates two key features of the robot. Firstly, it can speak as many as 40 languages, ideal for tourist locations where people need help and may not speak the local language.
The second interesting part of the demo was the use of the artificial intelligence to understand natural language and be able to respond to relevant details. The video shows a couple stressed about a train - but the AI is able to help them, in their own language.
The physical presence of the Furhat Robot means that people already understand how to interact with it, rather than having to speak to a less human device, be that a smart speaker or automated help point.
And of course, you don't have to interact with a human. You could talk to a dog and alien or pretty much anything at all. The masks are customisable and interchangeable, Furhat says that when you change the mask, the personality changes too.
The head can move with three degrees of freedom. That means that vigorously agreeing with you and vigorously disagreeing with you can all be shown through head movements.
It's all run by a fairly standard computer - in this case an Intel Core i5, 8GB of RAM and 128GB SSD.
The robohead also comes equipped with custom-tuned stereo speakers, so you can hear your bot clearly. There's also an HD webcam so it can interact more realistically with its owner.
Hopefully one day the whole thing will come attached to one of Boston Dynamic's Atlas robot and we can just get on with welcoming our robot overlords.


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