The experts at NTU have showcased a new form of robotics that is fast changing the techno-scape. It consists of social and telepresence robots that are indeed a marvel of existence.
Nadine is a receptionist at NTU (Singapore). She is very pleasant to talk to and will greet whoever enters the premises of the university. Why, she even remembers what you talked about the last time you met her.
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And she will refer to the previous conversation when you say hello to her the next time you enter the university. She appears for all purposes like a very beautiful lady with a translucent rosy complexion and light auburn hair. But the only thing is…she is a robot.
Termed humanoids, these strange robots are the wave of futuristic times. Nadine, for example has her very own personality, moods and emotional highs and lows.
Is such a thing even remotely possible? Well, Artificial Intelligence sure has come a long way since the days of Charles Babbage and Alan Turing.
Nowadays, laser technology and holograms not to mention semiconductor systems are being invented and re-invented at breakneck speed. Nadine, the happy humanoid looks you in the eye and possesses a memory bank that far surpasses many prodigious human beings.
She is a social robot invented by the scientific researchers at NTU. Nadine is in fact the technological equivalent of her creator, Professor Nadia Thalmann.
The software surging through Nadine’s circuitry is the same as Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. This wonderful robot may serve as an assistant in office premises and residential areas in the times to come.
Furthermore, she can be a best friend and wise mentor for the youth and senior citizens respectively. Nadine is at the meeting point of human and machine-like elements.
As a virtual buddy, she is the best thing next to a real girlfriend of sorts. As the progressive drive quickens and silicon chips, sensors and cloud computing become ever more sophisticated, robots like Nadine will become the order of the day.
Professor Thalman is mighty proud of Nadine. She feels her creation is much more than just a replica and mechanical model. She is a fine substitute for human beings in an inhuman world.
"Robotics technologies have advanced significantly over the past few decades and are already being used in manufacturing and logistics. As countries worldwide face challenges of an aging population, social robots can be one solution to address the shrinking workforce, become personal companions for children and the elderly at home, and even serve as a platform for healthcare services in future," explained Prof Thalmann, an expert in virtual humans and a faculty from NTU's School of Computer Engineering.
"Over the past four years, our team at NTU have been fostering cross-disciplinary research in social robotics technologies -- involving engineering, computer science, linguistics, psychology and other fields -- to transform a virtual human, from within a computer, into a physical being that is able to observe and interact with other humans.
"This is somewhat like a real companion that is always with you and conscious of what is happening. So in future, these socially intelligent robots could be like C-3PO, the iconic golden droid from Star Wars, with knowledge of language and etiquette."
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As a callous culture of cruelty takes over the world thanks to the rabid effects of an immoral and insensitive media, such ameliorating factors as robots that accompany you everywhere you go are a blessing in disguise. The field of robotics has seen a renaissance in recent times. As we head for technological singularity, it is a fact that anything could happen. And by that we mean anything!