We can talk with a remote person while seeing her if we use a cellphone with videophone and handsfree device; however, it is nothing but a videoconference and we don't feel as if the cellphone were the person we are speaking to. This study creates new human-harmonized information media that everyone can easily use and feel as if she were facing with a conversation partner, by endowing a cellphone with human shape.
The project leader (Ishiguro) has been engaged in the research and development of tele-operated android "Geminoid" in advance of the world. The important finding in the study is that a person operating Geminoid feels its body is her own body and another person facing the operated Geminoid also feels it is possessed by the operator. Additionally, we have found that this phenomenon appears even when the operator is different from the original person (person after who Geminoid is modelled).
This study aims at developing new communication media "Geminoid Cellphone" that allows for the transmission of human presence from anywhere at any time by downsizing Geminoid into a cellphone scale. A user's presence is transmitted to a remote place and a remote person can feel as if she were really talking face-to-face with the user. It will be new information media that will change our society as well as existing personal computers and cellphones.
Geminoid Cellphone adopts a minimal design of Geminoid, that is, it is
designed according to minimum requirements to express humanlike appearance and motion, which are revealed in our past studies. This design has the minimum appearance that can be recognized that it is man at first glance but cannot be distinguished from men, women, senior people, and babies. The preceding experimental results have shown that many people easily imagine their friend in the prototype of Geminoid Cellphone. The texture of the soft artificial skin covering the body of prototype also facilitates such imagination.
This study develops the sensing and motion capabilities and the design of Geminoid Cellphone through cognitive psychological experiments, while explores its potential as new human-harmonized communication media through a social experiment.