Robotics

Robokind Zeno R25 social robot detects and mimics emotions

Robokind Zeno R25 social robot...
Zeno R25 is designed to recognize emotions
Zeno R25 is designed to recognize emotions
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Director of Engineering Richard Margolin and CEO Fred Margolin
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Director of Engineering Richard Margolin and CEO Fred Margolin
Early Zeno R25 design sketches
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Early Zeno R25 design sketches
Kickstarter Zeno R25 Production Timeline
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Kickstarter Zeno R25 Production Timeline
Zeno R25 Motor Movement
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Zeno R25 Motor Movement
Zeno R25 with LED chest lit
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Zeno R25 with LED chest lit
Zeno R25 chestplate
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Zeno R25 chestplate
Zeno R25 Avatar
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Zeno R25 Avatar
Zeno R25 close up
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Zeno R25 close up
Zeno R25 is designed to recognize emotions
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Zeno R25 is designed to recognize emotions
Zeno R25 rendering showing an older design
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Zeno R25 rendering showing an older design
Zeno R25 test setup
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Zeno R25 test setup
The Zeno R25 is a more affordable version of the R50
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The Zeno R25 is a more affordable version of the R50
The Zeno R25 has 21 motors
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The Zeno R25 has 21 motors
Zeno R25 specifications
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Zeno R25 specifications
Zeno R25 hardware
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Zeno R25 hardware
Zeno R25 promotional art
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Zeno R25 promotional art
Zeno R25 lab
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Zeno R25 lab
Zeno R25 microphone test
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Zeno R25 microphone test
Zeno R25 rendering showing more advanced design
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Zeno R25 rendering showing more advanced design
Zeno R25 side view
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Zeno R25 side view
The Zeno R25 will sell for US$2,700
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The Zeno R25 will sell for US$2,700
The Zeno R25 has eight microphones
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The Zeno R25 has eight microphones
The Zeno R25 can be used for autism therapy
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The Zeno R25 can be used for autism therapy
Zeno R25 steps from rendering to prototype
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Zeno R25 steps from rendering to prototype
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More and more, robots are moving into our everyday lives, and if they’re not going to end up being incredibly annoying, they’re going to have to learn to recognize and cope with human emotions. RoboKind of Dallas, Texas has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise capital for the further development of its Zeno R25 interactive humanoid robot, which is designed to interact with humans in an intuitive way by detecting and mimicking emotions.

RoboKind, formerly Hanson Robotics, has been working on interactive humanoid robots for some years, including its early robot Einstein, robot baby Diego-san, and the earlier version of Zeno. The idea linking all of them is a desire to develop a robot with the capability of showing human emotions realistically and then combine this with a high-level artificial intelligence.

They've had a fair degree of success over the past decade, but the company still hasn't been able to come anywhere near to breaking into the consumer market because the price per robot remains high. Their previous model, the Zeno R50, sells for US$16,000, which pretty much puts it out of reach of anyone other than universities and similar institutions.

Zeno R25 hardware
Zeno R25 hardware

The Zeno R25 is designed as an inexpensive version of the Zeno R50 and RoboKind says that it will retail for US$2,700. However, the company points out that even though it’s made to be more affordable, it also enjoys some advances on the Zeno R50.

Though it looks a bit like a supersized toy, the Zeno R25 packs some fairly sophisticated technology in its humanoid form. Its brain is an OMAP 4460 dual core 1.5 GHz ARM Cortex A9 processor with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of memory that can be expanded via a MicroSD expansion slot. It runs mainly on open source software to allow for hobbyist work and user customization and the robot also has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

Since the robot is intended to be interactive, it’s equipped with a 5-megapixel autofocus camera in its right eye. Backing this up is a battery of visual algorithms for detecting colors, motion, faces, and QR codes. In addition, Robokind’s CompuCompassion system is designed to allow the Zeno R25 to identify and respond to emotions.

The Zeno R25 will sell for US$2,700
The Zeno R25 will sell for US$2,700

For audio, there’s an array of eight microphones capable of noise cancellation, audio localization, and enhancement. The Zeno R25 is also packed with infrared distance sensors, compass, gyro, and accelerometer, and the body has nine touch-sensitive areas. For control and output, there’s a 240 x 320 resistive touch screen on the chest, and a speaker to give the robot a voice.

When it comes to movement, the Zeno 25 packs 21 motors that provide it with 15 degrees of freedom and three degrees of freedom for walking forward, backwards, and turning. Even the face has six degrees of freedom to allow a wide range of emotional expressions as well as a degree of non-verbal communication.

RoboKind sees a number of advantages in a robot that can detect and show emotions. In terms of entertainment, the Zeno R25 reads books, tells interactive stories and jokes, can answer questions by searching online for answers, and, according to the company, the robot’s FunkTank software allows it to detect beats and dance along with music.

Early Zeno R25 design sketches
Early Zeno R25 design sketches

RoboKind also says that the Zeno R25 can conduct lessons for primary school students, teaching foreign languages, vocabulary drills, reading comprehension, history, science, geography and mathematics. It can also teach computer science to high school students and can be used as a teaching and research platform for university-level robotics courses.

One promising area for the Zeno R25 is in autism therapy. The paradox of humanoid robots is that the more lifelike they become, the less lifelike they seem. Unfortunately, the Zeno R25 has a slightly creepy air about it for many people, but in helping to treat autism, this is an advantage. Autistic children have trouble understanding human emotions and social cues, and the Zeno R25’s robotic expression is much easier to grasp.

Zeno R25 steps from rendering to prototype
Zeno R25 steps from rendering to prototype

The robot can not only talk to the child, but also display videos on its chest and record therapy sessions. RoboKind has also developed therapy modules to help autistic children recognize emotions and improve their social interaction.

Another interesting feature of the Zeno R25 is that RoboKind claims that it has its own personality, which it can alter to fit a particular mood.

A $2,699 pledge to the Kickstarter campaign running through November 23 is the minimum to reserve an Zeno R25 robot if the $50,000 goal is reached. If the campaign is successful, the first deliveries of the Zeno R25 are scheduled for March 2014.

The video below introduces the Zeno R25.

Source: Robokind

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2 comments
David Clarke
Is it my imagination, or are all of the guys in this video actually robots? Watch the hand movements. It would have been better if the commentary was spoken by the 'actual' robot. $2700 is still a lot of money. Who is going to but this?
Slowburn
I think these engineers are trying to build the friends they can't make in real life.