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Japanese researchers unveil humanoid robot that laughs, smiles

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Japanese researchers have developed a humanoid robot that can laugh and smile just like a real human being.

Japanese researchers said on Saturday that they have developed a humanoid robot that can laugh and smile just like a real human being.

The robot, called Geminoid TMF, can move its rubber facial skin to mimics a person's facial expressions. It can imitate a smile, laugh while showing teeth, and offer a grim look with furrowed brow, all by receiving electric signals from the person the robot is modeled after.

Osaka University researchers demonstrated the robot, showing how it could imitate a woman in her 20s by smiling and furrowing its brow in response to its human doppelganger doing the same thing.

A video camera records the face of a human, whose movements are converted to electrical signals to tell his or her robot "twin" to make the same expressions.

So what's the application for such a surreal technology? Health care. Human-like robots can be used in hospitals to give patients psychological security, such as by nodding and smiling.

If you ask me, though, it's a fine line between reassuring and just plain creepy.

Here's a video of the robot:

Copies of the robot are expected to be sold for about 10 million yen, or approximately $110,000. Customers are expected to include robotics research organizations.

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure