UPDATE: Ishiguro just told us that he won’t be able to provide “any private information on the model” who served as the template for Geminoid F and that her identity will be kept “confidential.”


Photo: Osaka University

Japanese roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro unveiled today his latest creation: a female android called Geminoid F. The new robot, a copy of a woman in her twenties with long dark hair, can smile, frown, and change facial expressions more naturally than Ishiguro’s previous androids.

Ishiguro, a professor at Osaka University, is famous for creating a robot replica of himself, the Geminoid HI-1, a telepresence android that he controls remotely. The new Geminoid F (“F” stands for female) is also designed to be remote controlled by a human operator.

In a press conference in Osaka, Ishiguro demonstrated how the android could mimic the facial expressions of the woman as she sat in front of a computer with cameras and face-tracking software.

Here’s a video I put together:

Ishiguro built the android as part of his work at Osaka University and ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories, with collaboration from Kokoro Co., a Japanese firm that specializes in animatronics and ultrarealistic androids.

In designing Geminoid F, Ishiguro’s team and Kokoro engineers wanted to create an android that could exhibit a wide range of natural expressions without requiring as many actuators as other androids they’d developed. In particular, they wanted the robot to sport a convincing smile—not just any smile but, as Kokore put it, a “toothy smile.” And it can also make a frown.

geminoid f


Photos: Osaka University

Whereas the Geminoid HI-1 has some 50 actuators, the new Geminoid F has just 12. What’s more, the HI-1 robot requires a large external box filled with compressors and valves. With Geminoid F, the researchers embedded air servo valves and an air servo control system into its body, so the android requires only a small external compressor.

The new design helped reduce the android’s cost, said Kokoro, which will sell copies of Geminoid F for about 10 million yen (US $110,000). Ishiguro and his collaborators plan to test the android in hospitals and also show it off at science museums and other venues. 

Ishiguro’s previous androids, in addition to his own copy, include replicas of his then four-year-old daughter and of a Japanese TV newscaster. I couldn’t find more details about the identity of the Geminoid F’s master template, only that she is “one-quarter non-Japanese.”

But I agree when Ishiguro says that one of the new android’s advantages over his own copy (photo on the right) is that Geminoid F has a friendlier appearance and people will be more eager to interact with it. Would anyone disagree?

The Conversation (0)

The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
Horizontal
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof
DarkGray

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

Keep Reading ↓Show less