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Geminoid F takes up acting
December 3rd, 2010

The highly realistic android called Geminoid F has been placed in a Japanese play called “Good-bye” and presented at a Tokyo Art Festival. The robot, which costs around $1.2 million, can mostly just sit, but she can also move her head and change her facial expressions. Another actress stands behind the stage feeding her her lines, which she conveys through her implanted microphone.

The Osaka University creation acted alongside a human actress in the play, which is about a woman with a fatal illness (not the android). Geminoid F is supposed to test out how robots can interact with humans in the arts, in this case simulating a theatrical performance. She may not be able to do many actions, but the brown-haired and brown-eyed robot does her job fairly well in monologues or simple dialogues.

As the human actress admits at the end of the video, however, there is something missing from the bot’s performance, something that perhaps will always be missing—the human element. Call me a bit pessimistic, but acting is one field where I don’t see robots having a great future. Maybe in comedy, but more serious dramatic stories would be a problem. Many human actors struggle to shed their “robotic” or monotonous performance, it takes a great deal of adaptiveness and intelligence to be able to give a realistic performance—simply having a human exoskeleton won’t cut it.

Still, such a novelty is bound to excite some theater-goers, and apparently ticket sales at the Tokyo fair were indeed boosted by Geminoid F. The play only had a two-day run, but due to its success, they’ll probably find other ones to put the robot in.

The BBC video below shows the Geminoid F in action.

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