THE SECOND COMING OF THE ROBOT PET

WIRED | 7/1/2019 | Arielle Pardes
DebraS (Posted by) Level 3
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Two decades later, electronics makers are still capitalizing on that reality. There have never been more robots for companionship. To name a few: Kuri, a robot designed to rove around your home, looks like a cartoon character and expresses itself in emotive bloops. Jibo, a precursor to Amazon's Alexa, has the body language of the Pixar lamp; it's meant to tell jokes keep you company throughout the day. A Japanese start-up sells BOCCO, a bot that lights up when you speak to it and lets you know when your loved ones have opened the front door. An updated model, coming next year, blushes when you say "I love you." And Sony still makes the Aibo, retrofitted for the 21st century.

Yun's team has spent years developing Kiki’s personality engine, a deep learning program that allows Kiki to adapt to its owners preferences. Its reactions aren't hard-coded, meaning Kiki chooses how to respond based on what it's "learned" in the past. “Kiki can figure out what humor means to you,” says Yun. “It can do a funny trick and observe if you smile or not. And if you did, Kiki learns that this is working, let me try it again.” The team also built its own “expression system” to control Kiki’s eyes, based on advice from Pixar animators. Kiki can convey a complex range of emotions that includes gradations of anger, surprise, happiness, and sadness. And then there are the 16 touch sensors spread throughout its head and body. When you touch them, Kiki coos with...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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