TOKYO (AFP) — Fed up with increasingly hard-to-use remote controls? Researchers at Japan's Toshiba have developed a small, talking robot that can learn how to do it for you.
Instead of trying to remember which button to press on a remote control, users could simply ask the table-top robot to turn on the television or other appliances using its own infrared signal, Toshiba said.
The 21-centimetre (8.4-inch) tall ApriPoco robot -- which is in the development stage -- is equipped with sensors that can detect infrared rays from remote controls.
"What did you do now?" the robot, with big eyes and a round torso, would ask when the user clicks on a television programme.
The robot would then remember the link between the user's answer and what was done with the remote control.
It is already possible to give verbal commands to car-navigation systems and other machines, but the user must remember certain commands to do so, whereas the ApriPoco can learn a range of instructions.
While users might get upset if a conventional machine makes a mistake, the researchers hope that the robot's child-like appeal will make people more patient and willing to help it learn.
Such interaction has proved to work well in trials, particularly with people in their 60s, who may be feeling as if they were teaching words to their own grandchildren, Toshiba said.
"The ApriPoco is believed to be useful for elderly people who tend to shun the complicated functions of household electronics," the company said.
Toshiba hopes to develop the robot for a commercial launch but has not yet decided when it might go on sale.
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