Paris-based robotics company, Aldebaran created Nao, a toddler sized robot designed for companionship. It has the ability to hold a conversation in 19 different languages. Nao is developed with basic artificial intelligence, can walk, catch and brace itself when falling. With built-in language learning software by the voice-technology company Nuance, the robot is designed to develop its own personality as it gets better at speaking through repetition. What sets it apart from other machines is the built-in emotional intelligence that allows it to sense the mood of the people surrounding it and react, according to Nuance’s vice president Arnd Weil. “What they are trying to do with the robot is mainly capturing what is the mood of that other person. It’s more like somebody’s coming home and he had a bad day, he’s angry, so the robot should capture that and react accordingly,” he said.
The robot will be able to build its own vocabulary by accessing a cloud of data that will help it understand the flow of conversation and building its own personality. Weil said that this will allow Nao the companion robot to interact better with its users. Nao’s creators foresee their creation filling more roles and functions like bringing out drinks, providing company for the elderly or disabled or reading your children their bedtime story.
“People do need somebody to talk to. A lot of people have animals or a dog or something, and this is just a new way of engaging with people,” said Weil