Meet SociBot, A Creepy ‘Social Robot’ You Can Make Look Like Whomever You Want

By Gabrielle Jonas on April 15, 2014 4:14 PM EDT

A robot has hit the market than can take on the face of whatever photo the owner uploads onto it.
A robot has hit the market than can take on the face of whatever photo the owner uploads onto it.

A humanoid robot that can be made to look like anyone the owner wants to has just hit the market, making it the perfect high-tech toy for the fun-loving entertainer or the obsessed psychopath. Meet Sociobot. He or she will look like whatever photo is uploaded. after it's 3D-mapped and then projected inside-out onto its see-through rubbery mask, according to Engineered Arts, a firm in Cornwall, U.K., which manufactures humanoid robots for theme parks, shopping centers, airports, and tourist information centers. Its latest robot, SocioBot, head turns and tilts, as its mouth moves perfectly in synch with its speech,

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All torso, the SociBot harbours two cameras in its head and a depth sensor in its chest, and can ascertain emotions by matching up a human's facial features with internal facial templates, allowing the huanoid to respond to and imitiate them. Creepily enough, its pupils dilate when a new person enters the room, and scarily enough, it can respond up to 12 people at once, even in a crowd.

The SociBot sells for about $24,000.  "Robots don't handle unexpected situations terribly well, but they are good at doing repetitive tasks that are very boring for real people,"  Nic Carey, Engineered Arts' research co-ordinator told TheGuardian.com, although that doesn't really explain the company's RoboThespian, a full-sized singing, dancing robot designed for theme parks and other attractions. The company makes a smaller version of the humanoid robot for "playing around with at home" for about $16,000.

Right now, Engineered Arts  is working on a humanoid robot called Byrun, a walking robot who can run and jump.

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