Aiko - the walking, talking face of the future
by VietNamNet | Submitted Thursday Jan 29, 2009 [06:16 AM]
She has a face that women would love, can speak two languages, possesses excellent academic skills, loves to help and never complains. Although she sounds like the perfect woman, she is actually an ‘it’; a female robot named Aiko, designed and built by a Vietnamese Canadian.
Aiko can read books and newspapers, solve maths problems that are displayed to her visually, and recognise the colours of other people’s clothing. (Photo: China Daily)
Le Trung, 33, has been working on Aiko for the past year and a half and has funded the project using his own savings, about 24,000 USD so far, which compares favourably with the 14 years and 100 million USD that Honda’s robotics experts have spent on building their own robot, Asimo.
Aiko, whose name means “the beloved one” in Japanese, is an intelligent robot whose design is a combination of mechanical devices, electronic components and artificial intelligence software.
She has the ability to talk and interact with humans, using a database of 130,000 sentences in both English and Japanese, and can learn from her conversations.
She can read books and newspapers, solve maths problems that are displayed to her visually, and recognise the colours of other people’s clothing, according to Trung’s website.
Standing at 1.52m tall, with vital statistics of 82-60-84 and a beautiful face that many women wish to possess, Aiko can be programmed to work as a babysitter, tutor, secretary, hotel receptionist, airport guide and many other jobs.
Aiko can also distinguish between different drinks and recognise simple foods such as hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwiches and objects such as toys. She is even able to recognise the faces of 300 different people.
Aiko’s prototype garnered massive attention at her first public display at the Hobby Show at the Toronto International Center in November 2007.
Aiko was originally designed to help the elderly perform simple tasks like making tea and coffee, read a magazine or check the weather forecast. She can also remind them to take their medication at the correct time. However, the applications for Aiko in the home, office or public places extend far beyond these simple tasks, Trung said.
Born in Vietnam, Trung spent his childhood in Japan before moving to Canada, where he studied analytical chemistry at Toronto’s York University, which seems to have no connection with his passion for building robots.
Trung’s project is still a work in progress, with new hardware and software added weekly. He is, however, facing a shortage of funds and is calling for donations to help his dream become a reality.
The building of human-like robots - androids or humanoids - is a fledgling industry that, nevertheless holds great appeal for scientists across the world, particularly the young.
An international association of humanoid designers has been established, attracting the participation of scientists from countries with rich experience in the field, such as Japan, the US and the Republic of Korea.
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