More Human Than Human? Scary Robot Helps Deaf to Speak

Humanoid robots are almost always exceptionally creepy-looking, so it should come as no surprise that this Japanese robotic “talking” mouth is completely terrifying. It was built to help hearing impaired people learn to enunciate correctly, which it does with an air pump and artificial vocal cords. The false nose above the mouth provides a nasal cavity which helps with the human-sounding articulation. Despite being scary (and a little naughty-looking), the robot could actually help hearing impaired individuals in a way that no other teaching aid has before.

The bot uses a learning algorithm to compare the voices of hearing impaired and non-hearing impaired people, then it creates a personalized visualization of sounds to help the student pronounce sounds correctly. Of course, it does this with a horrifying electronic “voice” and mouth movements that are straight out of a nightmare. But engineers at Kagawa University in Japan, where the bot was constructed, say that this type of learning tool can help students by giving individualized visual cues to help teach proper mouth positions and movements.

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See more in Robotics or under Technology. April, 2010.