Introducing Japan’s new singing robot (w/ Video)

Oct 15, 2010 by Lin Edwards report

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new humanoid robot, the HRP-4, has been unveiled at the CEATEC Japan 2010 trade show. The robot, nicknammed "diva-bot," has learned to sing by mimicking a human singer, enabling it to sound natural and to sing with more expression than any previous robot.

A research team from the media interaction group at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Tokyo, , and led by Masataka Goto, used a new technology called VocalListener to observe a real singer in action and synthesize the appropriate notes of the song with the help of Yamaha’s existing voice synthesizing software, Vocaloid.

The ’s facial expressions were generated with a second new technology, called Vocawatcher, which analyzes video of a singer to mimic the expressions.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

A human singer singing a typical Japanese pop song was used as a model, with her body and facial movements being mapped onto the so it would move in a realistic manner. The technology is even able to model the singer’s breathing movements and synthesize the sounds of breathing.

Masataka Goto, who is a music technology research scientist and music software developer, as well as leader of the media interaction group at AIST, said if robots are to become widespread in society they need to first become widespread in entertainment fields so that their use will gain acceptance.

Japanese researchers have been working on many kinds of humanoid robots, including a smiling robot, and robots that could replace humans in repetitive manual labor tasks.

The Comprehensive IT and Electronics Comprehensive Exhibition (CEATEC) is an annual trade show held in Tokyo for consumer electronics and technology.

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User comments : 32

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Pun
3.3 / 5 (7) Oct 15, 2010
Is it just me or is that the scariest thing you've ever seen seriously.
cmn
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 15, 2010
She's got man hands! :)
panorama
3.8 / 5 (4) Oct 15, 2010
It is pretty creepy, but what is with the proto-cylon body?
epsi00
5 / 5 (5) Oct 15, 2010
a great achievement of Japan. they are way ahead in the field.
otto1932
5 / 5 (1) Oct 15, 2010
'Harcourt Fenton Mudd...!!' yeesh
JamesThomas
5 / 5 (2) Oct 15, 2010
The ability to watch a human and create mimicked algorithms seem like a big step in more realism and ease of programing.

Also there may soon be the ability for the robot's brain to cross reference pre-programmed algorithms and so then advance on its own to be more life-like in different situations.

I find it fun and exciting to watch the evolution of humanoid robotics.
knikiy
4 / 5 (2) Oct 15, 2010
kinda reminds me of Milli-Vanilli
Dhanne
not rated yet Oct 15, 2010
Early prototype of our successor.
JimB135
5 / 5 (1) Oct 15, 2010
Is it just me or is that the scariest thing you've ever seen seriously.


Agree. She looks close to human but not close enough. Which then strikes me as a human with something very very wrong. The eyes. Like a zombie.
Riff
not rated yet Oct 15, 2010
Nope, not human enough for me. And whats up with the Japanese's fascination with pre-pubescent females for these things anyways? Most robots I ever see from them is like one of those hentai cartoons.
41245
not rated yet Oct 15, 2010
And whats up with the Japanese's fascination with pre-pubescent females for these things anyways?

Pre-pubescent females have full sized breasts now?
Truth
not rated yet Oct 15, 2010
Not bad...she even has cold sores on the sides of her mouth. But seriously folks, I see Disney Automatronic robots all the time here in Orlando, and they seem to be just as good. In fact, they move a heck of a lot better and are more entertaining.
Truth
not rated yet Oct 15, 2010
Riff, they probably make them like that because a young girl is generally perceived as kinder and gentler, thereby allowing the robot to be accepted quicker. A hairy, male sumo-like warrior robot would be a bit more threatening. Still, your question is valid.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (2) Oct 15, 2010
Is it just me or is that the scariest thing you've ever seen seriously.
Agree. She looks close to human but not close enough.
See the "uncanny valley" phenomenon:

http://en.wikiped...y_valley

Japanese robot makers are masters at achieving such dubious triumphs...
A hairy, male sumo-like warrior robot would be a bit more threatening.
Though I bet a super-ripped, ultra-muscular, clean-shaven robot with a strong German accent could be elected governor...
HealingMindN
not rated yet Oct 15, 2010
Since they just want a "humanoid" look, why not go for the Diva Plavalaguna look from the 5th Element with the blue skin and tentacles? You know, I've seen a few music videos where the Japanese women were really hot - and this ain't it.
mertzj
not rated yet Oct 15, 2010
So we all know this is leading to robot prostitution. Will it be legal tho?
MorituriMax
1 / 5 (1) Oct 15, 2010
What the HELL is it with Japan? Their manga stuff is already bad enough (people with giant eyes and mouths) but do they just have a universal desire to be the creepiest country on the planet? ENOUGH trying to make the world look like their cartoons!!!
trekgeek1
not rated yet Oct 15, 2010
So we all know this is leading to robot prostitution. Will it be legal tho?


This really is a serious question. In about 20 years when these robots are a more realistic substitution for humans, will a "sex robot" be an advanced blow up doll or real adultery? I've even wondered about a holo deck simulation. Would a holo-character be adultery? This is actually coming about in porn as well. Now they do CGI porn with no real human, but as these GGI characters reach 100% fidelity will it become a problem? will wives think "oh, it's just 1's and 0's" or will they be jealous? My personal opinion is that all three would be considered cheating by most people since I believe most people are bothered by the mental aspect of it. Having sex with a robot woman would cause the same feelings of rejection and abandonment in human females, and males. Remember, Data was fully functional.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (3) Oct 16, 2010
A toy is a toy. Sex toys of all kinds are legal today. A sex robot is just a super-advanced hyper-futuristic sex toy.

Unless and until robots gain self-awareness and consciousness, there are no legal grounds for banning such toys regardless of how otherwise realistic they may be.
trekgeek1
not rated yet Oct 16, 2010
A toy is a toy. Sex toys of all kinds are legal today. A sex robot is just a super-advanced hyper-futuristic sex toy.

Unless and until robots gain self-awareness and consciousness, there are no legal grounds for banning such toys regardless of how otherwise realistic they may be.


Nobody was talking about banning anything. Adultery is not a criminal offense in the United States. Even if it were official labeled as adultery, it wouldn't be grounds to ban it. So if your wife or girlfriend had a 100% accurate replica of some movie star or model and used it for sexual gratification it wouldn't bother you more than a her using some more conventional toy?
DamienS
5 / 5 (1) Oct 16, 2010
I don't know why they call these things robots - it's basically a mildly articulated mannequin with a vocoder.
PinkElephant
not rated yet Oct 16, 2010
So if your wife or girlfriend had a 100% accurate replica of some movie star or model and used it for sexual gratification it wouldn't bother you more than a her using some more conventional toy
That depends. Maybe she has a fleeting fetish or wants to try it just for kicks and laughs, or wishes to act out a fantasy so that it can be put to rest; that's all fine and healthy. On the other hand it could mean I don't live up to her standards. That would of course be an upsetting discovery, but honestly wouldn't you rather know than remain boorishly ignorant?
mfritz0
not rated yet Oct 16, 2010
This is getting close, but not close enough. First the facial expressions and head movement were too mechanical and precision. Second the eyes were just black balls of glass that stared straight ahead. They really need to work on eye movement, also the tongue was not animated properly with the formation of the vowel sounds. The teeth were unbelievably realistic as well as the hair. The skin needed some pigment abberations, not too many but enough to make a more believable look. I don't know if the skin had heating elements under it to make it 98.6 degrees farenheit or not, but that would be a good idea. Then the body, it is sad they spent all that work on the head and then gave it a mechanical body. They did not do the artwork justice. Yes this is a piece of artwork, without a doubt. I guess I'm just too much of a perfectionist, but I think they could have done better.
DamienS
5 / 5 (1) Oct 16, 2010
mfritz0, I think you missed the point. They didn't try to create a robotic facsimile of a human - the facade is just wrapping to showcase the voice synthesizer.
mfritz0
not rated yet Oct 16, 2010
Continuing on, I think they need to get with the smiling robot guys and put some smiling into these robots facial features. I'm curious, was the sound coming from the vocal cavity in the head, or was it coming from the holes on each side of the belt area? I think it would be nice if they had the robot breathe and produce the sounds from a voice box located in the head, this way each robot would be able to generate its own distinctive vocal fluxuations, similar to a violin. Every violin makes its own unique sound. There will come a day when the robot body will be a perfect reproduction of a humans, which will really be a tremendous achievement, especially when they learn how to transfer conscienseness into it.
point88
not rated yet Oct 16, 2010
Didn't Walt Disney do this like 55 years ago??? I think the Jack Sparrow on Pirates of the Caribbean ride looks better than this.
powerup1
1 / 5 (1) Oct 17, 2010
It is pretty creepy, but what is with the proto-cylon body?


I am surprised that someone with your mindset would even bother coming to a website such as this.
james11
not rated yet Oct 17, 2010
I'll take one, No once a monthers.
Buyck
not rated yet Oct 18, 2010
Robots and humans are coming closer and closer together! I think by 2020 you will see no difference anymore (i mean from the outside and expression). For intelligent robots on human level we will have to wait to at least 2030. But by 2050 robots will be far more better then humans on every level.
TJ_alberta
not rated yet Oct 18, 2010
karaoke night will never be the same again.
de_la_meu
not rated yet Oct 20, 2010
Robots and humans are coming closer and closer together! I think by 2020 you will see no difference anymore (i mean from the outside and expression). For intelligent robots on human level we will have to wait to at least 2030. But by 2050 robots will be far more better then humans on every level.

Where did you get this information of the futur?
TDK
not rated yet Oct 20, 2010
This thing is dancing there...
http://www.youtub...K4D1Jr6k