Furhat Robotics is working on a robotic operating system that can power the next generation of humanised robots. It can recognise faces and emotions, offering a reaction based upon how it thinks you’re feeling.
The OS can be installed inside a ‘mask’ that looks exactly like a human too, making it freakishly accurate when you’re talking to it. It listens intently, using its ears, thinks using its brain (Furhat OS) and then responds using its facial features that are projected from the inside and mouth to make sound.
“We operate in this area called social robotics,” says Al Moubayed, CEO and co-founder explained to The Guardian. “This crazy idea that if you create a machine that looks and sounds like people you can use them in extremely unique and valuable ways.”
It has been developed by carefully studying human behaviour and applying the foundations of how sound and visuals work, combining them to make an all-in-one, extremely human-like robot. Although this first stage focuses on faces, future iterations will have entire bodies, using more advanced body language to communicate.
But there are certain challenges that come alongside building such a human-like robot. Al Moubayed explained that people expect the robot to behave like a human, with common sense, humour and other non-robotic skills that are hard to replicate.
“We’re trying to understand what’s unique about humans and to replicate it. Psychologically it’s very close to us, which causes us to panic, that’s a very natural reaction – it questions our purpose in life,” Al Moubayed said.
“There are so many ways we can use this tech for the better, we can think of applications that make people more social, whether it’s children or the elderly. We want to focus on applications that make people’s lives better.”