Robots, Sensors Create Artificial Poltergeist (Video)

Mar 9, 2009
Tetsuo Nozawa, Nikkei Electronics

Keio University and Kyoto University of Art & Design jointly developed a "Sukima (interspace) robot," which is composed of human presence sensors, personified display devices, etc.

The robot was demonstrated at Interaction 2009, a symposium organized by the Information Processing Society of Japan.

The Sukima robot was developed with the aim of "providing a space with a virtual human body," Hirotaka Osawa of Keio University said. Specifically, the system is composed of multiple human presence sensors and information output interfaces such as "eye devices" and mechanical hands, which are installed in spaces under tables and between bookshelves. Each of the devices is connected to a PC via Bluetooth.

When the presence sensors detect a human hand, for example, the eye devices and the mechanical hands react to it as if the space itself had senses and will.

In addition to the "eye" and the "hand," the output interfaces demonstrated by the two universities include a foliage plant and hairs attached to a colorful box that are shaken by artificial wind.

"We developed them imagining a poltergeist and a ghost that has a kind of personality," Soichiro Kamibayashi of the Kyoto University of Art & Design said.

The system can be used to make a room more interesting as well as to keep people away from entering or reaching into a dangerous area or a limited-access passage, according to the universities.