Sexy Robot Bodies: Haptic Heads and Techno Tails
Scientists have deconstructed the robot to rebuild her: better, stronger, faster… and sexier?Are these robot body bits more or less creepy than their full-bodied robot counterparts?
Achieving believably human movement, in particular facial expressions, isn't just important for robots destined for public service roles, like the Geminoid F (in the video linked above) but is also vital for creating realistic and desirable machines for sexual service roles.
Dr. Takaaki Kuratate is moving towards creating this kind of realism using 3D projection onto a realistic sized and shaped head which can be viewed from multiple angles. Using a “talking head animation engine” to compile audiovisual input of people talking into the camera, scientists are able to match phonetic bits of audio with the appropriate facial movements and recreate them in Mask-bot.
Robot faces have come a long way in the past few months, but not everyone is focused solely on the outward expression of emotion. It is in a robot's ability to sense emotion that its facial expressions become relevant and responsive to its environment. This is also the goal of another projection-based robot face project, the GIA (Gestural Interactive Automaton) which will follow you around not only sensing and analysing, but recording and projecting your facial expressions onto its own “face” to mimic you!
Of course, a robot's face is not the only part of its body that must be realistic, especially when that robot is designed specifically to touch and be touched.
Image and Video Source: novriki's SHIRI on YouTube
The robot buttocks uses a pair of pneumatically-activated inflatable “muscles” which make up the gluteus maximus activator, then covered in a silicone skin. The creator says that he hopes “to approach the creation of sensitive and subtle expression by a humanoid robot using organic constructs” which “represents emotions with visual and tactual transformation of the muscles.”
When you touch a human body in certain ways, that human body reacts. Although flesh is much less predictably responsive than this particular device, its applications are fairly obvious in a sex robot market. If robot prostitutes are the reality of sex work, they will at least need to rival their flesh-and-blood competition!
Some motivated designers have turned that competitive drive inward, creating haptic devices which will allow a user to experience certain kinds of “self love” – in this case, a hug.
This kind of sensory input, whereby one can experience the sensation being given to another device, could create some interesting robotic/haptic intersections. If your sex robot didn't actually have to move around (much) or be able to touch you (well), but could instead allow you to feel sensation simply by mirroring and transmitting your own touch back to you! With this kind of technology, the market could expand without the need for a massive leap in muscle-mimicry.