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Geminoid H1: The Android

In 2006, Hiroshi Ishiguro, director of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory of Osaka University, Japan, developed Geminoid H1, the first actroid android, or as the comic and film have pressed into the public consciousness, the first surrogate. (Geminoid H1 is also one of the androids shown in that movie's opening credits.)

As the image above demonstrates, Geminoid H1 bears more than a passing resemblance to its creator. In fact, it was designed in part to be a stand-in for him. The Android's main task is to sit or stand in his classroom, teaching classes in his physical absence, with the android's eyes serving as cameras, and the mouth hiding a speaker - as well as enough muscles to form the visemes behind the words spoken. Its lips move in response to the sounds produced, but attempt to form natural movements.

In addition, the android mimics breathing with uncanny accuracy, and fidgets from time to time, in place. Additional realism was created using a collection of silicone moulds cast from Ishiguro's face and body to sculpt the face and body of the android. It even uses hair harvested from Ishiguro's head for its hair.

Whilst a long way from perfect, as the slightly droopy look in the photo evidences (that's how it normally looks between expressions), and unable to walk about on its own, this android was - and still is - an experiment in telepresence via robotic avatars. Is it possible to hold a class' attention and teach effectively via use of a surrogate? What are the weak points, and how could they be addressed?

Whilst H1 has no artificial intelligence of its own, beyond the regular and random body movements, it serves as an invaluable stepping stone towards something far more.

Further Reading

Resource List: Hiroshi Ishiguro's Androids and Gynoids


Hiroshi Ishiguro: The Man Who Made a Copy of Himself

Intelligent Robotics Laboratory

Geminoid Research

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