Saturday, 23 March 2013

Bring Out the Robot Inside You!

Cyborg Art by Arisusandasu
So is there really a robot inside you ?

Just Imagine, you wake up everyday, and start your day by brushing your teeth. What will happen if you ever forget to brush your teeth?

You will have this feeling in your brain that you have missed something and than your brain keeps on bugging you and will in-turn make your mind uncomfortable. Ever wonder how is that a simple task like not brushing your teeth, can ruin your entire day ?

Brushing your teeth is one of your most regular habits you have since your childhood. You have been trained by your parents, society to adapt to that habit.

Now let us define a habit,
A habit is a way of behaving that is repeated so often that it no longer involves conscious thought.

A habit can be good or bad under different scenarios, circumstances and people's perceptions. Frankly habits are directly linked to people's personalities. A change of habit needs a lot of conscious training and the process can change your personality but it is highly impossible to track personality change.

Ok, now enough of human persona, lets talk about robot persona.
oh yeah, robots do have personalities, but they use it purely for functional reasons on pre-determined inputs and outputs. But they can't function well, when the situation or data is unclear.

Humans are very adaptable to conditions like that and that adaptability again depends on the personality. So is it possible to make the robots adaptable like humans. In a parent-child relationship, child observes and learns the basics of life from his parent. In the similar manner, humans can do the same thing with the robots, and give them social cues and small size scenarios of their life and teach them the basics.

Our Coverage in Mumbai Mirror, 3rd Jan 13
Now lets see this the other way around, when the humans are teaching skills to the robot, will there be a situation where humans can retrospect on their habits and personality. For example, if parents use bad language in front of kids, and when the kid also uses the same bad language, the parent will certainly change his behavior.

In the similar manner, while putting yourself inside the robot, you will certainly introspect your behavior patterns. Parents become better students when they teach their kids, likewise anyone can become a better version of themselves when they try to teach a robot about themselves.

Lets start simple, lets us give your emotional patterns to the robot i.e teach the robot how you show happiness, scary, sadness etc  and see the difference.

If you want to give it a try, we would love to invite to our research lab.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Robots and Traditions - A Personal Robotics View

We often view personal robots from the perspective of a master-slave relationship. I think this view really limits our vision of how personal robots can be useful for humans. If we can conceive this relationship as cooperation instead of master-slave, this would be more beneficial for both the user and the robot. Neither are all humans are perfect and nor all the robots completely dumb. Humans and robots need to help each other. This idea forms the core concept of our “Robot Companion Project - A Robot for Every Phase of Human Life”.

Robots can do wonderful things, if fed by human intellect. For this to happen, humans need to have the patience of teaching a robot, just as they are patient while teaching their children. But in this fast moving world, we tend to be preoccupied with business and technology, and often have no time and no interest to replicate the traditional knowledge and customs to the next generation. Thus age-old ways, age-old traditions, and anything that is age-old and culturally valuable is either forgotten or preached in a very bad or wrong manner. Robots are very good at doing repetitive tasks, while humans are always impatient and often do the same repetitive things in different ways. Our basic intention is to use robots to help solving this problem. We teach the robots once, and let the robots teach and motivate the next generation to take up these customs many times over.

When we talk about India, the first thing that comes to the mind is Yoga. Ancient Indians started their day with a salutation to the Sun God - “Surya Namaskara”. This form of Yoga has 12 different positions called “asanas”. 12 different syllables or words called “mantras” have to be pronounced with each “asana”. Using the robot to teach Yoga has many advantages; the robot looks human, has a very easy-to-use interface, looks very attractive, and because of all this it connects very easily with humans. We were successful in implementing the entire “Surya Namaskara”; the music really adds to the positive effect. Please watch the video to see Nao perform "Surya Namaskara".

I will soon reproduce many other Indian traditions for the benefit of the new world and the next generation to see and remember these traditions. And we will soon be working on skill exchange programs between Abhirami and students. The idea is that many students will get access to Abhirami and can teach it different skills. In return, these students would perfect their own skills.