Randall Munroe answers some absurd questions; Danielle George reveals what’s in store for this year’s Royal Institution Christmas Lectures; Jim Al-Khalili explores the strange world of quantum biology
Japanese scientists gave us fuel-efficient cars, walking robots and massive advances in telecommunications technology - what will they think of next?
Well, apparently what they plan on giving us is horrible, horrible nightmares.
A new robot, developed by a team at Kagawa University has surfaced on the Internet, simply described in the original video as “Creepy video of talking robot mouth”. This robot isn’t just for inducing terror though, it actually has an incredibly noble cause: it’s going to teach hearing impaired people how to speak.
The project, which began in 2008, aims to demonstrate to hearing impaired people vital differences in the way the throat works during proper elocution by charting vocal patterns. This allows us to ‘see’ the human voice at work, and helps to get people’s tone and pronunciation closer to perfection.
The robot itself is comprised of an air pump, a set of prosthetic vocal chords, a resonance tube, a nasal cavity and a microphone attached to a sound-analyser that allows the robot to adapt its speech using a learning algorithm. By inputting the voices of both hearing impaired and non-hearing impaired people, the robot has ‘learned’ to talk much in the same way a person does.
Apparently the robot can also sing and mimic individual voices - just like the Terminator. I don’t know about you, but I’m never sleeping again.
By Toby Ellis