Dance, Fembot, Dance–Right Into the Uncanny Valley

By Jennifer Welsh | October 18, 2010 6:05 pm

The world’s first robot pop star, aka Divabot, made her debut last week at the Digital Contents Expo. Tech News Daily‘s take on her:

The warbling robot, with the Star Wars-esque designation HRP-4C, stands at about five feet, two inches (1.58 meters) tall. It has the appearance of a young Japanese girl, although one admittedly wearing a RoboCop suit minus the helmet.

The Divabot was born from the brains of researchers at Japan’s Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. She can sing realistically because of some special software that mimics human head, mouth, and facial movements, called VocalWatcher, and she synthesizes the song with software the team created called VocalListener (their original bot used Yamaha’s Vocaloid software). The researchers even added in real-life breath sounds and blinks to make her even more humanoid. The team believes that Divabot is the first of many robo-entertainers to come, team leader Masataka Goto told Tech News Daily:

“For robots to become widespread in society, I think they need to be used widely in the entertainment industry,” said Masataka Goto, leader of the media interaction group at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology that is developing HRP-4C. “As one way of enabling this, we’ve tackled the challenge of seeing how well a robot can imitate a human singer.”

Related content:
Discoblog: Punching Robot Totally Breaks Asimov’s First Rule
Discoblog: Helpful Robot Can Play With Your Socks
DISCOVER: HERB, the Robot Butler (Video)
80beats: A Hide-and-Seek-Playing Robot Learns How to Lie
Visual Science: Life and Love in the Uncanny Valley

Videos: Youtube/kmoriyama and Diginfonews

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
MORE ABOUT: dance, Divabot, Japan, music, robots
  • Magoonski

    I applaud the technology that went into making it but I won’t be impressed until they build a robot that REALLY looks like a human and is fully independent of needing a human surrogate to copy voice and movements from, until then I prefer them to look like fuzzy woodland creatures. The fake human look is just creep, it reminds me of ventriloquist dummies.

  • Bee

    Am I the only one who finds it totally absurd to try and re-create something that nature has done already? I mean, seriously, what’s the point? What’s it have breasts for and why does it blink its eyes? What sense does this make?

  • Shade

    It humanizes the robot so it doesn’t strike to alien.
    People need to see the human in things (look at how people describe their cats), and a robot that looks human is no different.

  • Techs

    Research has shown that people like either highly realistic human robots or non-human looking robots. Anything in-between is very disliked. These designers are merely pushing boundaries and not really trying to design something practical. That will come eventually. For designers of any kind this is play, it’s a toy. The best job in the world.

  • Pterodactyl Guano

    “What’s it have breasts for and why does it blink its eyes? ”

    The point is to eventually make a fembot that can replace human females as sexual partners to a degree far beyond what is not possible by means of pornography, but without the risks and inconveniences of prostitution. Demand will be effectively limitless, and whoever manages to make such a product will be a billionnaire.


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