Cutting edge: A peek at the recent developments in science and technology

| Updated on November 08, 2019

Robot clone   -  Special Arrangement

Want a robot clone?

A Russian company, Promobot, thinks you need a robotic friend or colleague,. The company manufacturs autonomous service robots, but its new Android Robo-C is the world’s first humanoid, which not only copies the appearance of a person, but can also integrate into a business environment.

The robot is a completely anthropomorphic machine. It copies human facial expressions - move its eyes, eyebrows, lips and other “muscles”, and also keep the conversation going as well as answers questions. The technology developed by Promobot as well as its own patented design allows the user to play over 600 options of facial expressions of a man.

Promobot has its own components, including artificial skin. The robots face has 18 moving points and 3 degrees of freedom of movement for the head. It has over 1,00,000 speech modules in its artificial intelligence (AI) system. Promobot is actually selling the Robo-C, which customers can get tailor-made to look like themselves.

The company describes its uses as being able to answer questions at an office or store, act as an administrator for things like meeting rooms in offices, or even as a home robot where it can just hang around looking like its owner.

Man and machine will integrate

What if you could wear something on your hands and then find you can play the piano where you couldn’t before? Or operate a complex machine that you know little about? That’s the sort of thing a professor at the University of Chicago is working on.

Professor Pedro Lopes is interested in, bringing man and machine closer together, hopefully to man’s benefit. He heads the Human Computer Integration Lab and believes wearables are going to become closer to the human body in the future, integrating with it in a way that they will work together. The team has already made plenty of headway. “ We have used our wearable muscle stimulation devices, for example, to: make a user's muscles properly manipulate a tool they never used before, computationally accelerate a user's reaction time so they are able to take a photograph of a high-speed moving target, read and write information without using a screen, and transform someone's arm into a plotter so they can solve computationally complex problems with just a pen and paper,” says the Lab’s website.

Light-borne threat

The world has been worried enough about companies listening in on their conversations with smart assistants. But here’s a new concern to ponder on. Microphones, of the type used in smart speakers, are open to ‘light commands’.

This means that attackers can remotely inject inaudible and invisible commands into voice assistants, such as Google assistant, Amazon Alexa, Facebook Portal, and Apple Siri using light.

An attacker can use a laser to impact the speaker’s internals and inject a command and get full control of devices from distances of up to 110 meters. Most often, this does not require any user authentication. This was demonstrated by researchers from the University of Michigan and certainly calls for companies to find a way to light-proof the audio devices.

Compiled by Mala Bhargava

Published on November 08, 2019

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