At Interaction 2011, a research group including members from Keio University demonstrated TEROOS, a shoulder-mounted avatar for telecommunication.
“With video chat, people can communicate face to face over a long distance. But the problem is that going out or shopping together can prove difficult. With this system, the person who’s going out carries an avatar on their shoulder, so the other person can operate the avatar to look around freely. This can provide an experience just like going shopping or having a date with the other person.”
This robot has a camera, mic, and speaker, and it can move its head through six degrees of freedom. The speaker is directional, so communication between the users is comparable to whispering into the wearer’s ear. And the camera operates within the wearer’s field of view, so the two people can communicate as if they’re always together.
“An advantage of this system is that communication even goes smoothly if you use demonstrative pronouns like “this” or “that”, say for example, “You should get that glass”.”
“You can change the avatar’s expression, so you can communicate all sorts of feelings to people around the wearer.”
“The body has an original design by us, generated by CAD and printed in 3D. We’ve used six commercially available servo-motors, with a microcontroller and amplifier, connected to the body.”
Communication to move the robot is done by sending information to a smartphone, which is then passed to the microcontroller via Bluetooth. Audiovisual communication is done through Skype.
“You can move the face freely, up and down or left and right, from the PC panel using a mouse. And it’s easy to change the expression by clicking icons, so for example, you can open and close the eyes.”