"Here, Listen to My Underpants": The Robot Psychics of India

By Valerie Ross | February 3, 2012 12:26 pm

As technology marches ever onward, robots have taken on more and more of life’s necessary jobs: heavy lifting, precise mechanical manipulations, and, of course, predicting the future.

Peppering the fairs and festivals of India, striking in their boldly colored if battered armor, are a fleet of robots that are part fortune cookie, part street-corner psychic. These bots wait in perpetual readiness to dispense their pre-programmed wisdom, and for only 5 rupees or so, the robot’s handler will allow you to plug a pair of headphones into its metallic underpants and listen as it tells your fortune.

The fortune-telling robots come in a range of shapes and sizes to best suit your fortune-telling needs (there is, in fact, a Flickr pool devoted to the various specimens). One of our favorite designs is the mod/retro combination of a smattering of LED lights and an analog clock, for those mortals bogged down in the worldly concerns of time (below).

The robots’ wisdom, apparently, comes on prerecorded tapes, audio fortune cookies that foresee the future in Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, and Telgu. Not having heard the tapes ourselves—and not having any languages in common with the robots—we aren’t certain about the scope of these predictions. Do the robots whisper ticker symbols and stock market prices of the day after tomorrow? Do they speak of wars and famines, or the mundanities of day-to-day life? We wish we knew. Do you?

Images: Jitendra Prakash / Reuters; courtesy of Paul Keller / Flickr

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: India, psychics, robots
  • Mark

    “Ask me a question and I’ll give you my gut reaction.”

  • Mark

    “My entrails will tell you the future better than a chicken’s AND without the mess of removing them.”

  • Mark

    My stomach says, “aaaaaarrryyyyyyurpaaagrowlrrrrrrryp”

  • Mark

    “I predict that after my arm actuates, you will have a severe headache.”

  • jempro

    Turn on, Tune in – Fortune I.T.!

  • Anonymous

    You wouldn’t want to hear what my underpants predict.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/CPTEYLWIMFRNFMGCJETTSMG3BA Spirit_Tracker7

    ‎”♫ ♩ ♬
    When a man’s an empty kettle
    He should be on his mettle
    And yet I’m torn apart
    Just because I’m presumin’
    That I could be kind of human
    If I only had a heart
    I’d be tender,
    I’d be gentle And awful sentimental
    Regarding love and art
     I’d be friends with the sparrows
    And the boy that shoots the arrows
    If I only had a heart “♫ ♩ ♬

    Robot: “Please get my oil can from over there”.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/CPTEYLWIMFRNFMGCJETTSMG3BA Spirit_Tracker7

    Robot: “This is the US Computer Tech Support Hotline; Please hold for caller. Computer trouble shooting skill not required. Please hold for caller. Your names are now John and Janice. US caller incoming… Please greet caller and instruct US caller to reboot their computer.”

  • Microblogger

     comes on prerecorded tapes?

  • guest

    These robots was a regular fixture in the farmers market held every friday in my village in India.


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