Published September 25, 2006
NEW YORK – Behold the babe butler!
Actroid can't walk, but she can talk your ear off in an actual two-way conversation.
The jazzy Japanese automaton speaks four languages and understands 40,000 phrases, such as "Where is my meeting?" and "Can you tell me a joke?"
Her makers also claim she has a playful sense of humor — and she's giggly.
And, like an obedient gal, if Actroid doesn't understand you, she'll politely change the subject.
Most impressive are her real hair, eyelashes and lifelike skin.
"Most of our humanoids are old people. It is more difficult to create young women's skin," said Megumi Katabira of Actroid's creators, Kokoro Co., in Tokyo. "When the skin is too smooth, she does not look like a real human."
NextFest's director, Victor Friedberg, said Actroid will be the centerpiece of "robot row," featuring ballroom-dancing robots, an Einstein-like humanoid and a DJ robot that can cut and mix his own music tracks.
"They are all jaw-dropping; some of these border on magic," Friedberg said.
Also on display will be the interior of the first commercial space plane, expected to be unveiled by British billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson in typical press-friendly style on the eve of the convention.
Other planned exhibits include a flying car, unmanned aerial vehicles, an invisibility coat and the latest in interactive home furnishings and entertainment.
"Some of it is very deep science, and some is just very playful," said Friedberg, adding he's pleased the third annual convention is hitting New York this year. "I think of it as if it were showing people who have seen it all something that they've never seen before."
Wired NextFest opens with Thursday's "Education Day" — a free day for students only.
The convention will be open to the general public from Friday through Sunday. Advance tickets are $15; buying them at the door will cost $20.