Robot that dances
and plays soccer
JAPAN'S legions of robot lovers were given a new object of desire this week when Sony unveiled a techno-baby that can move, groove and play football.
The Sony Dream Robot, or SDR-3X, is a 50cm-tall humanoid that packs a wicked shot and celebrates a goal by going down on its silver knees and throwing its arms up in the air in triumph.
With 24 joints, the anthropomorphic machine is also a smooth mover when it comes to Japan’s latest dance craze - the para para, which is a cross between Saturday Night Fever disco style and line dancing.
The robot resembles
an astronaut wearing a helmet, gloves and backpack. It has a camera
for eyes, microphones for ears, speaker for a mouth and sensors in its
torso and feet to maintain balance.
"Hello everybody, my hobby is soccer," the mechanical critter said in an introduction in Tokyo.
SDR-3X is the latest brainchild of Sony’s Digital Creatures Laboratory, which produced last year’s surprise hit: Aibo, the cyber-puppy. Sony has sold more than 45,000 Aibos and last week unveiled an updated model of the robot-mutt that will go on sale at US$1,420 each.
Sony has yet to decide on a price for SDR-3X, which shares much of the same technology as Aibo, but a prototype is said to have cost as much as a car.
Toshi Doi, president of the Digital Creatures Laboratory, said robots had considerable commercial potential because they would soon be able to help with housework.
"In about five years’ time, most entertainment robots are going to be humanoid types," Mr Doi said. "And there will be less distinction between entertainment robots and those carrying out useful tasks." Japan has surged ahead in developing humanoids and mechanical animals for entertainment and welfare.
Last week, Honda unveiled the world’s most advanced anthropomorphic robot, Asimo, which is capable of extremely smooth movement as well as face identity and voice recognition.
Matsushita is developing a line of techno-pets that will provide company and give medical advice to elderly people living alone.
NEC is working on a sophisticated egg-shaped messenger robot that will roll around the home passing on email messages.
But SDR-3X comes closest to a sporting robot. Next year, Japan will host the first international robot games, where SDR-3X will be looking to put its victory celebrations into practice.
By arrangement with
"Gender of computers"
A scientist often wondered what gender computers should be addressed as. To answer that question, he set up two groups of computer experts.
The first group was composed of women, and the second of men. Each group was asked to recommend whether computers should be referred to in the feminine gender, or the masculine gender.
The group of women reported that computers should be referred to in the masculine gender because:
·In order to get their attention you have to turn them on.
·The have a lot of data but are still clueless.
·They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they are the problem themselves.
·As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer you could have had a better model.
The men, on the other hand, concluded that computers should be referred to in the feminine gender because:
·No one but the Creator understands their internal logic.
·The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else.
·Even your smallest mistakes are stored in long-term memory for later retrieval.
·As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half of your paycheck on accessories for it.