Ever heard of the Keepon robot? Originally created as a therapeutic tool to interact with children with autism and other social disorders, this cute, dancing, and addictive social robot has gained worldwide adoration and acclaim. It seems that every week robots are breaking new barriers in agility and intelligence, yet noticeably absent are robots that show success in human like social interaction. The Keepon robot reminds us that although current robots noticeably lack social skills, robots of the future will offer the full complement of human level social skills – making us laugh, cry, and love.
When first encountering the keepon robot we are tempted to write it off as a simple toy, unworthy of our attention. Singularity Hub has long been aware of the robot, yet we ignored writing about it for this very reason. Today we confess that we can no longer ignore this compelling little robot. At trade shows the robot consistently wow’s its audience. Although it seems like such a simple robot, the Keepon has managed to break new barriers in the complex realm of human robot social interaction.
Readers will be surprised to learn that the Keepon robot has a whopping price tag of $30,000! This partly demonstrates the high level of complexity and intelligence underlying a robot that at first seems so simple. Getrobo has an excellent interview with Keepon creator, Hideki Kozima, that explains the history of the Keepon, the logic behind its creation, and the reasons for its high costs.
Although originally designed as a therapeutic tool for children, the unexpected public appeal of the Keepon robot has spurred its creators to launch a company, Beatbots, that will bring an affordable version to the masses.
The Keepon robot uses video and audio sensors to sense and interact with humans by dancing, following faces, turning, and so on. It is hard to describe in words how or why this robot would be so interesting, so we leave it to the videos below to give you a glimpse:
First we see the Keepon doing a simple dance, then showing dismay when the music stops…notice the robot’s emotional intelligence as the music stops:
The History Channel did a segment on the Keepon that is extremely informative, showing us the inside of the robot and demonstrating the original therapeutic use of this robot for children:
Next we have the most popular youtube video of the Keepon, and dance sequence: