NEC shows the Papero Personal Robot project on its e-zine "Special Feature". Personal robots are designed to interact with people and be programmed for human-like interactions and tasks. Sometimes called electronic helpers, these robots can navigate around objects and speak in simple phrases. NEC developed the prototype personal robot in 1997 and continues to conduct research into the software and applications that improve human-machine interactions.
According to the article, Papero can check email, tune the TV to your favorite channel, and even dance with your children. This egg-shaped robot named PaPeRo knows your favorite football team and searches the Internet for the day's lineups and scores when you get home. It will also develop a personality depending on how you treat it.
Communicating with PaPeRo is easy. There's no need for traditional human interfaces like keyboards, mice, or display screens. "You don't need to learn to use PaPeRo like a PC. You just need to talk to it," says Yoshihiro Fujita, senior manager at NEC's Multimedia Research Laboratories. Fujita says that PaPeRo grew out of NEC's ongoing research into better human interfaces with machines.
PaPeRo "hears" with four microphones, understands 650 phrases, and speaks more than 3,000. Its improved speech-recognition software works well in realistic environments, including noisy and hectic homes. PaPeRo's technology derives from proven NEC applications in telephone directory systems that use speech recognition, and in foreign language translation software for PCs and PDAs.
PaPeRo also identifies people it knows, using face-recognition technology and two cameras for eyes. It maps faces until it achieves a match with a template in its memory, then greets the person by name. This face-recognition technology is also available as NeoFace, a software development kit for biometrics used for secure login access to office computer networks and in airport security systems.
According to the company's website, personal robots will learn from the users and environment. Different scenarios can be developed. A basic scenario called "Self-Developing Scenario" has been created for studying development. In the "Self-Developing Scenario", the robot is quiet in the beginning. As it develops its scenario, it shows a wider variety of spontaneous actions and talks.
RoboStudio is the software used for developing "cerebrum" functions for robots
The personal robot can be used around the house in a variety of ways:
Networked appliances: Email recipes and directions for preparing dinner to a robot or computer and the "intelligent" appliances in your home cook the meal.
Security and safety: A home security system scans the faces of intruders to see if they are known visitors.
Healthcare: A personal robot that lives with the elderly or sick monitors a patient's vital signs and alerts a doctor if it detects any problems.
Education: Advanced and intelligent interfaces help children access the Internet for homework or creative projects. Robots talk to children about their day at school, play games, and dance.