Man can create many things but one thing he can't is another man. But that nearly changed at last week's Global Sources Electronics Fair in Hong Kong where a humanoid robotic head was the center of all attraction.
Named Han, the robot doesn't just look like a human being; it can actually understand facial expressions and also react accordingly. Furthermore, it can make eye contact and initiate and participate in basic conversations like most of us can.
As expected, all eyes were on Han despite there being a plethora of other ground-breaking and never-before-seen products at what is considered the biggest electronic show in the world.
What sets Han apart from other robotic peers is its vast array of facial movements that mimic human nature and gives it a more lifelike feel. A special malleable engineering material called Frubber – portmanteau of flesh and rubber – was used to make Han's face, which is why its cheek, eye brows and lips all feel like human flesh too.
Han's intelligence, meanwhile, owes everything to a special pattern recognition software and hardware which U.S. robotic expert David Hanson made from scratch.
According to Hanson, Han's successful development is a major breakthrough and he firmly believes that human-like robots will soon have a major part to play in the health care, education, and entertainment industries.
Hanson Robotics CEO Jong Lee doesn't even feel they'll have to wait too long to reap the benefits of humanoid robots. He is of the opinion that robots like Han can be programmed to work with autistic children.
"Autistic kids often have to learn through brute memorization," Lee said. "The robot can be trained to respond to reactions, repeating things over and over. When you have robots helping nurses, they [the nurses] are 30 percent more productive."