She looks almost like a human being, with soft skin and flowing brunette hair. She smiles when greeting you, looks at you in the eye when talking, and can also shake hands with you. She can be happy or sad, depending on the conversation. Nadine is the doppelganger of its creator, Prof Nadia Thalmann, powered by intelligent software similar to Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana.
Thalmann, the director of the Institute for Media Innovation who led the development of Nadine, said “Robotics technologies have advanced significantly over the past few decades and are already being used in manufacturing and logistics. As countries worldwide face challenges of an aging population, social robots can be one solution to address the shrinking workforce, become personal companions for children and the elderly at home, and even serve as a platform for healthcare services in future.”
Nadia Thalmann (right) shaking hands with Nadine. Credit: NTU
Nadine’s robot-in-arms, EDGAR, is a tele-presence robot optimised to project the gestures of its human user. By standing in front of a specialized webcam, a user can control EDGAR remotely from anywhere in the world. The user’s face and expressions will be displayed on the robot’s face in real time, while the robot mimics the person’s upper body movements.
It can also deliver speeches by autonomously acting out a script. With an integrated webcam, he automatically tracks the people he meets to engage them in conversation, giving them informative and witty replies to their questions.
Such social robots could be used tourist attractions and shopping centres, to offer information to visitors.