Robots that are designed to comfort the elderly or entertain children aren’t new, but Fujitsu are hoping to take things one step further with their latest bear ‘bot. The currently unnamed robot is designed to recognise facial expressions and movements using a camera embedded in its nose, and together with a network of touch sensors across its head and body can react appropriately.
In fact the Fujitsu bear has 300 different responses of its own, which range from giggling and laughing, waving its paws around, and pretending to fall asleep complete with recorded snores. ”We want it to feel natural” said one Fujitsu researcher, who revealed that the company expects to deploy the responsive robot “in nursing homes so that it can entertain and soothe elderly people.”
The other target demographic is at the other end of the spectrum. Fujitsu think their robot bear could have applications in schools, encouraging shy children to engage and helping them with basic communication skills. Alternatively, a home robot could help wake kids up in the morning – presumably not by shaking them roughly until its camera-nose spots they’ve gone cross-eyed – and get them ready for the day. No word on when the robot might actually go into production, however, nor how much it will cost.