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Dr. Jimmy Tang male Group Editor

A semiconductor materials engineer who is also into DIY projects, audiophile, World of Warcraft, photography and fine cuisine.

A Chance to Interact with Robots

If you've always wondered what Japan's robot technology can help in making our lives better in the future, then you have to head down to Japan Creative Centre at Nassim Road to get a glimpse of these robots in action. It's a 2 week exhibition with Japanese companies such as NEC and Toshiba showcasing some of their inventions. We caught a preview of the exhibition last week and we have a couple of videos here, just in case you can't make it to the exhibition.

Most of these robots are used by scientists and for research purposes, focusing mainly on how they can be used in the home and therapeutic purposes. Other companies like Panasonic, for instance, build these intelligent beings for the purpose of assisting hospital administration and patients while some are just merely for entertainment. 

If you have kids with you, they would be delighted to have a go with this baby harp seal known as Paro. It's originally created to behave as a companion at home and used mainly as a therapy aid for seniors, especially those with Alzheimer's disease. Research has found that the lifelike robot was able to improve patients with the disease and it was certified by Guinness Records in 2002 as the World's Most Therapeutic Robot. As popular as it is with seniors, these furry robots are extremely popular with kids especially when they are built to respond to external stimulation, just as a real baby seal would.

For those who like to talk to robots and see how they react to instructions, check out NEC's PaPeRo (Partner-type Personal Robot) and see how it's made to become a partner to human beings. These robots are not sold commercially, so it's still used mainly for research into how it can be used to care for children and the aged. Its ability to listen to voice commands and its image recognition capabilities make these robots highly versatile and intelligent. Check the video below and see how the robot responds to voice instructions and even touch!

Toshiba too had a robot that listens to voice commands. Known as ApriPoco, it listens to basic commands like turning the lights in your home on or off and switching on the television. It's used as a smart remote controller, one that's voice activated and one which communicates with its user. Here's a short video of ApriPoco performing simple tasks.

There's also a cute baby robot that researchers at the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) use to study the cognitive developmental mechanisms of a newborn baby. With responses and behavior like a real baby, scientists are using the robot to understand how humans move and interact. Professor Minoru Asada and his team took a year to develop this robot at a cost of 3 million yen.

Finally, Singapore Polytechnic was also there by invitation to showcase their soccer playing robot known as Robo-Erectus. These robots can move, pick up soccer balls and kick them, all thanks to its highly agile mechanisms and sensors that allow it to recognize objects.

There are also other cool inventions and robotic devices displayed at the exhibition. So make a date with these robots and take a peek into the future, for these are only going to make its appearance exclusively at this exhibition and will not be available at retail. Well, maybe not in this decade.

If you'd like to catch these robots live, head on down to Japan Creative Centre at 4 Nassim Road from now until the 8th Oct 2010. Admission is free and the exhibition will be opened daily from 10am to 6pm, except Sunday and Monday.

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