Whether it’s losing your car keys just as you’re ready to step out the door to work, or misplacing your phone after a heavy night drinking, losing property is quite simply a fact of life. No matter how hard you strive to keep things in your possession, somehow fate always comes along and puts it in some obscure place nowhere to be found. That all might be a thing of the past however, if a robot being developed by Japanese electronics firm Hitachi ever becomes commonplace in residential homes.
Named EMIEW2, the red and white robot has enough artificial intelligence in place to be able to identify items it has previously been shown and then go about locating them, as well as the ability to recognise human faces. Surreally cute - think WALL·E’s EVA mixed with the iconic appearance of ‘Hello Kitty’ – the robot stands about the size of a six-year-old child and glides everywhere on wheels at the bottom of its legs. Furthermore, it weighs just 14kg, has legs that fold up for portability, moves at a brisk 3.7mph, and is said to feature “posture control” technology that allows it to make smoother turns.
The latest version of a robot that debuted in 2005, EMIEW2 uses two cameras mounted on its head to compare the colour and shape of objects it has to find with images stored in its database. “EMIEW collects images of various objects from the internet and saves them on an external database,” said its developer Takashi Sumiyoshi, “then when you shot it something, EMIEW figures out what it is. [Furthermore], if you name an object, EMIEW searches for it and guides you to where it is located.” The robot is also able to tap into the video feeds of networked cameras located around a room in order to identify an object even without moving from its position. At a recent demonstration by its developers, EMIEW2 was asked to find a watch, before quickly informing its operators, “The watch is on Mr. Tanaka’s desk, I’ll lead you to it.”
If we had £1 for every person who relayed on Facebook they’ve come to lose their phone after a night of insobriety, we’d be rich men indeed. EMIEW2 as a drinking buddy? Now there’s an idea!