SociBot mirrors faces for uncanny teleconferences
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This disembodied robot can identify you in a crowd, mimic human emotions, and follow you around the room with its eyes. Plus, it's programmable to display any face, even your own.
Whoever said you can't be in two places at once never meet SociBot. From the same company that created RoboThespian -- Engineered Arts -- SociBot v1.2 allows people to program their faces, or anyone else's, onto the robot with real-time facial animations.
According to the UK-based company's Web site, "SociBot uses projective head technology, which we have now combined with a sophisticated mesh mapping algorithm, meaning your robot can have any face you desire -- even your own. Expressions and features are easy to modify and control. With voice recognition, facial tracking, lip-syncing, and speech synthesis in more than twenty languages, anyone can converse freely with our chattiest robot."
The SociBot contains a HD RGB camera, molded plastic head with controllable face and internally projected features, fully articulated neck, IR depth sensor, high-quality audio, fiberglass torso, and a touch-screen interface.
While SociBot has applications at airports, malls, science museums, and theme parks, Engineered Arts hopes potential clients will see its possibilities as the ultimate telepresence device thanks to its ability to recognize people and their moods, as well as convey subtle human-like expressions using any face the client wants to program it to display -- including their own.
SociBot is available in both a full-sized version priced at approximately $24,000, and a SociBot-Mini desktop version at $15,700. Either model can be fully customized.
Originally, the SociBot was unveiled at the CeBit IT fair in 2012. This latest model, the SociBot-Mini, impressed attendees at last month's Human-Robot Interaction Conference in Bielefield, Germany.
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