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VWN Resource Database: Embodied Avatars
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Resource Database > Embodied Avatars
Related information is also held in the following Categories:
Avatar Creation | Avatar Interfacing | Avatars and Personification | Augmented Life | Artificial Intelligence | Levelling the Field
 
Embodiment.
Noun.
Interacting through a physical body that a mind is placed into.

Not all avatars have to be virtual. Of course, the higher you move up the scale in terms of VR sophistication, the less virtual, virtual gets. Still, it is entirely possible for an avatar to be physical, and use many if not all of the same interface methods with either the natural or synthetic mind, that it?s virtual counterpart does.

Physical avatars frequently take the shape of androids, gynoids and other similar creations, in which the body is acting as a vessel for a mind that may be placed in it, or even that may see through the vessel?s senses, whilst being physically located, elsewhere.


Sections


Androids (9)

Applicable Dictionary Entries:  
Android
Locally Hosted resource
Albert Einstein: The Android
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, US, have created a basic android modelled after Dr Albert Einstein, in order to develop and test interaction routines designed to allow the android to interact with humans utilising natural facial expressions and speech recognition.

Futureworld is the sequel to Westworld, yet it takes an entirely different direction. Meant to be the film that spun the Westworld franchise into an anthology set, instead it was the film that buried it. Futureworld has some great ideas, and like many films of the era, is a goldmine of nuggets concerning robotic technology, virtual reality, augmented reality and social implications.



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Galatea and Modern Robotics: The Allusion
At first glance, it would not seem that an ancient Grecian myth would have anything to do with modern robotics. Yet, whilst still not commonplace, the allusion to Galatea is slowly gaining popularity as a phrase used to reference modern robots and android/gynoids. Certainly as we move ever-closer to bridging the uncanny valley, this allusion makes ever more sense.

Locally Hosted resource
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.


The Mahru/Ahra series of robots have been developed by KIST - the Korean Institute of Science and Technology ? since 2005. The name has a similar root to the difference between 'android', and 'gynoid'. In this case, Mahru refers to a male robot, and Ahra to a female robot.


CB2, which stands for Child-robot with Biomimetic Body, is a new android-based attempt at developing an artificial intelligence with social skills. The robot is essentially a bald, white baby, and it learns in much the same way - by watching expressions change on its 'mother's' face, and teaching its own neural net to cluster them together.



Like all of the Mahru series, Mahru-R was developed by KIST - the Korean Institute of Science and Technology. Moving on from the extremely slow moving Mahru-M, the R robot was an attempt to fully master walking. Up until the R, all versions of Mahru used linear polynomials to guide their walking process.



Like all of the Mahru series, Mahru-Z was developed by KIST - the Korean Institute of Science and Technology. This version is the first to finally be potentially ready to serve as a service robot in a home. Albeit a very, very slow home.





Gynoids (9)

Applicable Dictionary Entries:  
Gynoid
Locally Hosted resource
Aiko: The Gynoid
Aiko is a gynoid - woman alike robot. She stands at just under five feet when upright, and has a model's perfect proportions. Designed by Canadian citizen Le Trung, the bot is fluent in both Americanised English, and Japanese. Possessing around a 132,000 word vocabulary for each language.

Locally Hosted resource
Bina 48: The Gynoid
Unlike most interaction gynoids, Bina is not a full body robot. Instead, she is basically a head, shoulders, and small external compressor. Currently residing at the Terasem Movement Foundation in Bristol, Vermont, she's one of the most sophisticated facial expression gynoids of 2010.

Locally Hosted resource
Galatea and Modern Robotics: The Allusion
At first glance, it would not seem that an ancient Grecian myth would have anything to do with modern robotics. Yet, whilst still not commonplace, the allusion to Galatea is slowly gaining popularity as a phrase used to reference modern robots and android/gynoids. Certainly as we move ever-closer to bridging the uncanny valley, this allusion makes ever more sense.

Locally Hosted resource
Large Image Display: The Stepford Wives: Soulless Automation
A scene from 'The Stepford Wives' in which the robotic skin is shown to Joanna for the first time; along with the knowledge that she will soon be inside it, whether she wishes it or not. This plays on the submersion of humanity within the machine, and also the uncanny valley.


The Mahru/Ahra series of robots have been developed by KIST - the Korean Institute of Science and Technology ? since 2005. The name has a similar root to the difference between 'android', and 'gynoid'. In this case, Mahru refers to a male robot, and Ahra to a female robot.


Locally Hosted resource
Saya The Gynoid ~ Telepresence and Automated Teacher
Saya is an older gynoid from Japan. Developed in 2004, her initial role was as a robot receptionist. Since then, her development has improved to the point of a classroom assistant / telepresence portal for pre-teen education, and she is being used as such.

The age of the runway android, the robotic fashion model, possessing a form that no flesh and blood woman can, may be finally nearing us. In mid March 2009, Japanese researchers showed off a gynoid - female form android - capable of strutting her stuff on the catwalk.



Simroid, or 'simulator android' is a gynoid which has been developed by Dr. Naotake Shibui of the Nippon Dental University in Tokyo, to be used as a patient for dentist trainees.





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Telepresence and the Android / Gynoid (9)

There is a certain movement towards using an android or gynoid body to house a human, or AI mind that is not physically located where the android body is, but is instead in another body, maybe thousands of miles away. By returning sufficient sensory stimulus to interact through the android, it is possible for an ultimate form of telepresence to be achieved: Being there, without being there.
Applicable Dictionary Entries:  
Activity Dependent PlasticityBiometric Interface
Functional Electrical StimulationNetwork Based Humanoid
Tele-EmbodimentTelecommuting
Telepresence
Locally Hosted resource
Large Image Display: Simone: Mocap Synthespian
A scene from the film Simone, describing the merging of human and machine elements, creating an avatar embodiment which is half her human operator, and half artificially sourced. A scene showing something that is all too realistic, and very likely to occur for real.

Mahru-M was never designed to be a truly functional home help robot, but rather a steppi8ng stone towards the creation of one, which the research team hoped to achieve by 2018. Mahru moved at a glacial pace, but possessed then-revolutionary machine vision skills, that were capable of identifying items in three dimensional space through use of stereoscopic vision, the same as humans.





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Beyond a Physical Avatar (5)

Avatar, as a term, comes from Sanskrit, one of the world's oldest languages. The Sanskrit word Avatāra was used to denote a being from a higher plane of existence descending to our world, and wearing a form here, before returning to the higher plane.

But what if we go one step further than creating a physical avatar? What if the android or gynoid body becomes the physical housing for a mind, itself. What are the repercussions? Who would do this, and why?
Applicable Dictionary Entries:  
Activity Dependent PlasticityTelepointer
Locally Hosted resource
Large Image Display: AI: Artificial Intelligence: Facial Access Panel
This robot girl - gynoid - is used as a demonstration model by the film "AI: Artificial Intelligence", to show several aspects of their take on robot behaviour and construction. In this still, the gynoid's face is sliding apart for maintenance. This is not particularly realistic, for several reasons.

Locally Hosted resource
Large Image Display: Bicentennial Man: Aging Android
The concept of aging, or the appearance thereof, is a good one. It is an aspect of circumnavigating the uncanny valley that should never be forgotten: No matter how perfectly a human face, behaviour, mannerisms are recreated, unless the face, the body seems to change with time, the uncanny valley has not really been conquered.

Locally Hosted resource
Robocop
An overview of the Robocop films and TV series' together with how they have much to say on the very real areas of augmented reality, embodiment and robotics. This article also serves as an index for our growing range of articles examining individual aspects of the series' and the issues they directly showcase.



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Substrate Chauvinism (2)

As we move closer to the concept of what are effectively designer bodies, in which both natural minds and synthetic or artificial minds are placed on a level playing field, we will as a society go through some ‘rough patches’ over the rights of such beings, and such shells.
Applicable Dictionary Entries:  
Substrate Chauvinism
Locally Hosted resource
Embodiment: We React to Exposed Teeth Faster than Other Emotional Displays
Researchers from Germany have discovered strong evidence that with humans, picking faces out of a crowd has a lot less to do with the shape of the face, or the expression upon that face, and a lot more to do with whether the teeth are visible or not.



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Risks With Embodiment (1)

Embodiment - particularly embodiment in a different form to that which you were born with - does carry some potential risks to the way your brain is wired. Specifically, long-term embodiment in a new form whether physical or virtual, may change things enough that your natural body could feel foreign to your brain when (or if) you return control to it.
Locally Hosted resource
Link Between Deafness and Speech Deterioration
A physical link between the loss of a given sense and changes in the wiring of the brain for other output modalities has been discovered in songbird studies. It gives us more reason for caution when embodying for any length of time in a body other than that we physically possess.