Japan has introduced a new telepresence robot about the size of a toddler.
The robot, named Telenoid R1, is a ghostly white figure weighing in at about 11 pounds. What really makes Telenoid R1 revolutionary, though, is its ability to replicate the motions and facial expressions of the person on the other end of the line.
The robot has nine actuators that allow its arms, eyes, mouth and face to move in sync with the caller. It uses a specialized software program to approximate head and neck movements, as well as eye contact and mouth movement.
The robot was developed by Japanese engineer Hiroshi Ishigaru, a professor at Osaka University who works on robots meant to "transmit the presence" of people to another place.
The androgynous creature will cost around $35,000, but a cheaper version covered in cloth rather than silicone will be available for $8,000 next year.
Japanese scientists at another university also recently announced the creation of a head-mounted video conferencing system that allows all users on a video call to make eye contact with one another.