It's one thing to build a robot that thinks and speaks like a human. But it’s another to create a bot that emotes like one.
Japanese artist Takayuki Todo developed the anthropomorphic SEER (Simulative Emotional Expression Robot)—a silicone head that mimics people’s facial appearance.
Born out of research into human gaze and expression, the bot uses a camera sensor to track and imitate nearby profiles; its blue eyes, thin brows, and well-actuated head move with you.
SEER, a card-carrying member of the uncanny valley, looks like something cartoon animators use to generate lifelike characters on screen. It rotates its head on three axes, and can independently move its glassy blue eyes to focus on different points.
Animatronic eyelids and eyebrows made of soft elastic wire only add to the eerie feeling that this wee head (not much bigger than an adult hand) is silently judging you.
“The purpose of my research and development is not to answer the philosophical theme ‘Will a robot (or computer) obtain a mind or emotions like mankind?'” according to creator Todo.
Rather, he invented SEER to simply see if it’s possible to portray these feelings in the same way as humans.
This isn’t Todo’s first robot rodeo: He previously produced Gazeroid—a humanoid with impressive eye-contact interaction (i.e., she can move her head while holding your gaze in an unsettlingly natural way).