02. 20. 2005
When I initially read about "wakamaru", the first thing that came to my mind was Spielberg,'s AI, and while the movie's robots look much more human than Mitsubishi's, I couldn't help but feel a little creepy while reading about it.
"Wakamaru" is the nickname of a robot designed by Toshiyuki Kita for Mitsubishi. This cute playmobil-looking robot was named after a young Japanese warrior. You can read more about the origin of wakamaru's name on the project's site, but, as you can imagine, the name isn't really the robot's most impressive feature; here is a peak into what our future could look like.
Wakamaru is a robot that is friendly to people and useful for your life at home.
Its face recognition technology allows it to identify two owners and eight other persons. It recognizes approximately 10,000 words and speaks spontaneously, though always in accordance with the situation's particular context. From what I understand, wakamaru performs according to its family/owner's schedule and is able to perceive when something unusual occurs, so, for example, if someone gets home earlier than usual the robot starts alerting in a loud voice, and if it is not stopped within a specified amount of time, sends an alert via email.
Though, I didn't get the impression that the house-sitting/house-keeping scenario is what Mitsubishi is interested in pushing with this product, which is still under development; their vision of wakamaru seems to be more that of a family member and care giver. The robot will remind you in a kindly tone to take your medicines, it will ask you health related questions and send the answers via email to the notified address and, most importantly, it will look for you if it senses unusual behavior (for example, you didn't enter the dining room according to your usual schedule).
"wakamaru" lives beside you from wakeup time to bed time in harmony with your life. If it finds you in the same room, it comes closer to you and speaks to you. At night, it stands by at its charging station and responds if requested.