At the Summer Davos of the World Economic Forum in Tianjin last week, a young corporate executive appeared utterly bewitched by an attractive and young Chinese woman in a traditional white robe.
Her red lips and shiny black eyes seemed to draw him towards her. The woman responded gently to his overtures: “Sir, I don’t have a boyfriend, for I immerse myself wholeheartedly in my work.”
Her tone of voice was a giveaway. The executive quickly realized the speaker was not a woman but Jiajia the robot. Jiajia seemed to redefine ‘virtual reality’ with its stunning resemblance to a woman.
The lifelike robot is a product of a research team from the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, Anhui province.
Jiajia was unveiled in April. ‘She’ quickly earned the nickname “Robot Goddess” for her combination of physical beauty and deep learning ability.
Jiajia is still in development and not up for sale yet. But Chen Xiaoping, the director of the research team, believes Jiajia will be a good assistant for the elderly in future.
Chen said he started to work on Jiajia three years ago. He was driven by the realization that people’s interest in any robot model usually does not last for more than three minutes.
Jiajia can be taught to interact with people through not just conversation but physical movement. “We modeled Jiajia after five female students at our university,” Chen said.
According to Chen, Jiajia can naturally move her eyeballs and her speech can be in sync with her lip movements. More importantly, she can produce micro expressions to match the content of her speech. Stated differently, Jiajia can get as real as real can be.
“When Jiajia says, ‘I’m happy’, she will smile, just as humans might do,” he said. “With a pleasant image and an approachable conversational style, I hope Jiajia can also help ease people’s fear and concern about robots.”
Jiajia is a robot developed by the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, Anhui province. [Photo/China Daily]
Age: 2.5 months (debuted on April 15, 2016)
Producer: University of Science and Technology of China (USTC)
ID: Third Generation of “Ke Jia” Interaction Robot
Won the Best Intelligent Service Robot of Robocup 2013-15 (three consecutive years)
Docent for USTC school history
Hosted the first International Robots Spring Festival Gala