Sure the iPod has a nice touch interface, but it can't give you a hug. Until now. ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communications Lab has developed the Robovie-MR2, a robot with an iPod Touch embedded in its gut. The latest in a line of communications robots, the MR2 is small (about one foot high and less than five pounds) and sits on your desktop. It will translate any of the information on its PDA tummy into speech complete with gestures. The bot comes complete with a CCD camera so it can look at you, microphone so it can hear your requests, and a speaker so it can creep you out with it's ultra cute voice. ATR IRC created a short Christmas video featuring the MR2 but only released it to YouTube recently. Check it out below.
Smart phones and PDAs can put the entire world's information in the palm of your hand. It only seems natural that someone would want to place that same power inside a robot. Along with a wireless control pad and Bluetooth connectivity, Robovie-MR2 should be able to tap into the global communication network and find you any data you need. The only question I have is, why?
It seems like letting the robot tell you what's on the iPod Touch is just adding another layer of translation that doesn't serve much purpose beyond being cute. Of course, the motto of the MR2 is "cute is justice". I'm not making that up, that's the motto. I'm not sure exactly what that means besides the scary implications about our criminal laws. I'll be much more impressed when robots use advanced software applications to act as universal translators at airports, work as office assistants, or even to give preliminary examinations to patients at doctors offices. There's a lot more to do with this technology than be adorable.